Sunday, December 13, 2009

Haiphong City and Halong Bay

Total Kilometers cycled: 2197.3km
Total punctures: 2

Ater having a wonderful time at Cuc Phuong National Park, we set off to Haiphong City, which sounded lovely (in the gospel according to Lonely Planet, that is) ...

The cycle to Haiphong was long-ish (124km), and pretty busy. We were going to break this into two lazy days, but decided enroute to combine it into one decent one. In the end we had a mixed ride - along the way we passed a road accident, where someone had been killed on their motorbike, which was sad and quite sobering. Makes us glad to be wearing our helmets...

We also passed and endless stream of restaurants offering dog-meat (and were passed by many motorbikes loaded up with caged dogs,clearly NOT destined for the pet shop!). Also, along the way, two teenage girls joined us for a break and we all shared some food and they practiced their English on us, which was really nice.

Despite Lonely Planet's lyrical waxing about Haiphong, we were not too impressed - the town was full of traffic and had a depressing "economic-decline" feeling about it. It seemed to be crammed with lazy men drinking coffee and leering at us as we walked about the city (although, I have to say that the few women we saw were very friendly and kind to us). Both the hotel and icecream shop recommended by Lonely Planet had been demolished, so I guess they hadn't been there for a while!

We decided to go to the port and see if there was a mid-day sailing to Cat Ba Island so that we could leave Hsaiphong a day early, but found that the only (official) sailing had been at 9am... A couple of women tried to sell us a ticket on their boat (no boat in sight!) from a fold-out table, but we were not as stupid as they would have liked, and decided to just grab a liesurely lunch and high-tail it to Halong Bay the following morning...

So, we arrived in Halong Bay last night, and it is beautiful! Clean sea air and long boulevards for walking. Even the people are really chilled out and don't constantly harass you to "buy something madame; moto-bike Miss; etc etc" Just a really chilled-out sleepy beachy town, right at the start of the high-season. Lovely ; )

Speaking of lovely, Halong Bay is not only known for it's Bay, but also for its seafood. We had a delicious seafood feast last night, including a pile of calamari and a whole grilled fish (Elisha and I both agreed - the best calamari we had ever tasted!). Mmmmm!

Yesterday we also bought tickets for the Government boat to Cat Ba Island, and are looking forward to sailing at 1pm today - we get a 3 1/2 hour cruise through Halong Bays highlights, and should arrive in Cat Ba in time to check-in to a Hotel and seek a(nother) yummy seafood dinner. Can't Wait!

1 comment:

  1. Great to read you are still enjoying the adventure, albeit for one or two seedy gents who it must be said have obvious good taste, are both well and by the sounds of things probably very beautifully tanned by now!

    The weather in godzone is settling by the day and appears as if it will be perfect in time for you return. Some breeze recently has meant a re-aquainntance with a much loved windsurfer and muscles in places that I remember from sumer last year. A bit more time at the gym will see them right.

    Hope the time on Cat Ba was a different experience to the mainland and sets you up nicely for your final week.

    Life in Tga is going well especially now school is almost over and the Remuera tractors are less prevalent on the roads! Commutes of 15mins are becoming the norm once again as are jacketless days and work shouts. All good.

    Anyway hopes this message finds you both well and looking forward to returning NZ in a weeks time. Best wishes.

    Love CnP


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