Sunday, April 7, 2013

Home! Yeah!

Arrived in Tampa @ 3:45 pm. YAY! Didn’t seem as hard traveling east as west. Jay picked me up at the airport and prepared a lovely dinner for me. He liked his new hat. I’m a lucky girl!! There’s no place like home!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Noodle Village and Ancient Town

Left the Tirant Hotel early in the morning and drove to Cat Que, a village that makes noodles. After the noodles are made they’re put on wooden racks to dry outside. The noodles are vermicelli looking noodles. Then we went to the ancient village of Duong Lam in the Red River Delta. We saw a Buddhist Temple, pagoda and old houses in the ancient town. We saw people making sticky rice and other Vietnamese treats. There were no tourists in this town. We had lunch at a local family’s home. Then we headed for the Hanoi airport. Kathy and I had to wait nine hours in the airport before boarding our flight because the rest of the group was flying to Laos and had to be there earlier. It was nice to have Kathy to hang out. The airport was a zoo! After a six-hour plane ride to Tokyo I had a 4-hour layover. Then my flight was delayed two hours on the ground once we boarded. The flight to Dallas was eleven and a half hours. Then I missed my flight to Tampa. What a long journey home! I had a wonderful adventure!!! But I must say I’m very eager to get home! I miss my dear hubby Jay and family!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ha Long Fishing Village and Phu Lang Pottery Village

We woke up early in Ha Long Bay to a sunny day, fresh air and peace of the bay. Breakfast was served outside on the deck. Then the ship’s tender took us to Vung Vieng Fishing Village, where we were rowed in rustic basket boats to see the local people who call Vung Vieng their home. We got a glimpse into their daily life, by visiting the village’s floating school and community home, gate and pearl farm. We passed through the lagoons as we returned to the Dragon's Pearl Junk. As soon as we got back we were told a big storm was approaching and all the boats were being called back to shore. So, unfortunately, instead of having a second night on the boat as planned, we headed back to Hanoi after a delicious seafood lunch on the boat. On the way we stopped at Phu Lang, a pottery village. We saw locals playing chess, and making coffins and large ceramic floor tile. The village makes second coffins. Apparently they dig up the first coffin after two years and transfer the bones to the second coffin, which is much smaller. Dinner was at our favorite restaurant in Hanoi, The Green Tangerine.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

To Ha Long Bay

The train pulled in to Hanoi about 5:30 am. It was drizzling lightly. We stopped at a wholesale flower market that’s open from midnight until early hours in the morning. Then we drove to Ha Long Bay. Our journey took around 3.5 hours through the Red River Delta countryside. We stopped at a farm along the way to see the daily life of the local farming activities and rice fields. We arrived at Ha Long City by midday where we transferred to the Dragon’s Pearl Junk #1. This 11-cabin boat is modeled on the Chinese junks that used to sail these waters in earlier times. The woodwork is beautiful. The scenery is magical. There are nearly 2,000 limestone islets in the emerald waters of this massive UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the coolest places on earth I’ve ever seen. The weather today was foggy making the area even more mysterious. Our group had the boat to ourselves. We had a fresh seafood lunch while cruising in the bay. There was time to kayak, swim, and relax before dinner.  We also went into the Thien Canh Son Cave. Very relaxing!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sapa Market and Ta Phin Village

In the morning I walked around the town of Sapa, saw a local school, did some shopping, and explored the Sapa Market, which was by far the most graphic one I had seen yet. After lunch we visited Ta Phin Village, famous for the beautiful brocade weaving done by the Red Dzao hill tribe women. The local hill tribe women “bombarded” us as we stepped off the bus. They walked with us to their village. All along the way they tried to sell us their handicrafts. We visited a local family’s home. The houses are built of wood and bamboo with a dirt floor. We also visited a local school and hospital. There is much poverty in this village. We don’t know how lucky we are!! On the way back to the Lao Cai train station we stopped to photograph beautiful terraced fields at dusk. Then we had dinner at a local restaurant near the station before boarding our overnight Victoria Express train back to Hanoi. I slept better this time on the train.