I was really looking forward to taking the 2 day cruise of Halong Bay, but the Act of God clause caught up with us. You know that one sentence in insurance policies that basically says they are not responsible when natural disaster or the planet does not cooperate. So, there we are arriving in Hanoi at 6AM by train and the cruise, also known as our hotel for the night, was cancelled. Here is the beauty of having booked in on AirBnB. They have to refund our money back. I had read that if storms come through and they have to cancel cruises that often the companies do not give refunds. After a nice Pho Ga breakfast, apparently a Hanoi specialty, we had to figure out what we were going to do.
They told us that we could instead take a day tour to Hoa Lu and a possible day tour to Halong Bay the following day if the weather cooperated and they would refund the difference. Off we went on a different journey with no hotel planned for the night, but with the amount of hotels in Hanoi we were not too worried.
Hoa Lu is the site of a relatively recent archeological discovery of the foundations of the palace of the king from the early 900’s in Vietnamese history. Some farmers discovered the foundation of the palace while working in the rice fields and now it is a protected site. There are also a few temples that were there during those time periods, but have been restored so that the public can see them.
After a brief Vietnam history lesson, they took us to the river where we had lunch. Definitely the most touristy place I have eaten since arriving, for example they had pizza and fries, but we stuck to the Vietnamese food offerings. One thing I am finding that I really enjoy about Vietnamese food is its freshness. The herbs were picked fresh that day the chicken, fish, or whatever meat source you choose was just alive that morning. This stems from lack of adequate refrigeration, but makes the food taste amazing.
Tam Co is the where the river meets the rice fields. All of this was viewable from the ancient palace, but the view from the riverboats and bicycles was unbeatable. We rode in a riverboat with a local guide. The one thing that I found most interesting and fascinating was that they row using their feet. We drifted down the river past impressive rock formations and into caves. From our vantage point we could see the local farmers in their fields and the animals grazing. Our boat guide’s family had a rice field that they harvest and they also sew/embroider on the side.
Next came the bicycle trip. No pictures to share here. I was to preoccupied with not falling off the bike. It was so scenic yet dodging traffic, livestock, workers, and the general rockiness of the terrain did not make for many photos.
Sayonara for now… D&M