Leaving Hanoi

Well tonight I leave Hanoi for Hue. I've really enjoyed my time in Hanoi. I spent 3 days in the city itself and then did some trips to areas nearby. On Thursday I went to the Perfume Pagoda. It's a nice trip out of town, you drive for awhile and then get a boat to go to the mountains. There are a lot of temples around and we only visited a few of them. Apparently, the biggest one is on the top of one of the mountains and is a full day's trek so we didn't go to it. A joint venture is building a cable car so I imagine that in the near future it will be overrun by tourists. It was really nice to walk through the mountains and see the scenery though but our guide's english wasn't very good and he didn't explain very much.

On Friday I went to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc. Hoa Lu was the old capital in the north over 1000 years ago but those remains are long gone aside from some excavation work. There are 2 nice temples that we visited though and the guide was able to cover more of the history. Tam Coc is a beautiful area in the mountains surrounded by rice paddies. We went in small boats (2 people in each boat) and rode up the river for a few hours. It was very peaceful and the scenery was quite nice.

However, the highlight of the trip has definitely been Halong Bay. It's simply an incredible place in terms of scenery. Plus, I was really glad that I "splurged" on the trip and went with a better company. The boat was really nice and the service was incredible. We ate so much good food and got to see a fair amount of stuff for a 2 day trip but it was all very relaxed and I didn't feel rushed at all. Plus, the group was really good and I had some really interesting conversations with 2 of the other travellers on board. It was also my 28th birthday so it was a pretty cool way to spend my birthday and was worth every penny.