Today we left the hotel at 8:00 to board our "junk" boat for a bay cruise. We had no idea how wonderful today would be! Ha Long Bay is one of the natural wonders of the world; it was so beautiful. The bay is full of a maze of rocky cliffs jutting up out of the water. There are more than 1,000 limestone islands and islets in 1,500 square miles of bay. There are these bizarre rock sculptures that jut drastically from the water. It almost looks like something you would see in the movie Avatar. We cruised around the bay for 4 hours and had a wonderful lunch aboard the boat. You will have to check out our pictures to see how the meal was prepared...very interesting. Many people went swimming in the bay, though we didn't because it was a little chilly outside, but they all said the water was warm.
After our cruise we had a 3 hour bus ride back to Hanoi where we checked into the Bro&Sis hotel. After check-in we had our most wonderful meal yet at "Wild Rice" and then we headed to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. This production was outstanding! They had live local musicians and singers and they were incredible. There were 8 puppeteers and 17 different scenes; really the show in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) didn't compare at all. I hope we can post some clips of the show sometime when we have good internet.
Before we headed to the airport to fly back to Ho Chi Minh City, we visited the One Pillar Pagoda and Tran Quoc Pagoda. Tran Quoc is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi and the Vietnamese Buddhists come here at least twice a month to pray, burn incense and offer gifts. This pagoda is on an island in the West Lake. It was built in 545 and the architecture is stunning.
-Vietnam is the port where many of our students had their parents visit through a trip SAS organized. It is nice to meet some of the parents of our students
-If you need a North Face jacket you can buy one for $20 here
-Many people had clothing made for them by Vietnamese tailors. They brought in their clothes and told the tailor to copy the skirt or shirt. They do a wonderful job here