Halong Bay to Hanoi...
Well I survived the 4 hour ride in Ninh Binh... it's a pretty flat town :) so it's not exactly taxing... though "Buck" (Clint, but we call him buck.. as he's a respected elder) did somehow cause his back tire to explode...
At any rate, after Ninh Binh I headed out to halong bay... went out overnight on a "chinese junk" like ship... which is pretty damn slow... hardly surprising for a 60 foot 3 story boat that only has a 4 litre nissan diesel motor pushing it along - Sadly it was overcast all day, so my pictures probably dont do it credit at all.. but this place is stunningly beautiful (and even hauntingly so when it's raining)... basically it's Yangshou/Guilin in China, but reproduced in the middle of the ocean - i.e. thousands of limestone peaks of various sizes that are amazingly steep and jagged.
After going for a bit of a swim in the sea.. and a kayak around some islands (even went through a cave and popped out in a completely enclosed lagoon in the middle of an island... stunning).. oh and visiting "surprising" cave.. which is surprising, in that ships ram each other for a chance to unload passengers on the island (bloody funny to watch) .. and that the cave from the outside looks "tasteful" - yet inside it's like some kind of really repetative disneyland.. coloured lights.. the odd sound effect... oh la la!
That evening I got myself a tad laquered... wine.. beer.. "hanoi" vodka.. and even some scotch.. needless to say it was an amusing evening.. and ended up spending a good four hours cloud watching with Helen out on deck and discussing the why's and where for's of being "barren" *snigger*... It's funny that because you generally bump into people with very diverse backgrounds and interests that inevitably discussions always end up going back to "people" and "relationships" as opposed to things - which, though it passes the time, slowly liquefies my brain... I can't wait to get back into some coding.
The following day we departed from Halong bay and headed up to Hanoi... ye olde capital of Vietnam - which is where I am now (sitting in the old quarter thinking how I really need some bia hoi and a shower).. for the ummm... 2nd day?
At any rate - I've been binging on western "treats" for the last 2 days... Tastey bbq ribs at Al'frescos last night... tasty lunch at Koto's (Koto stands for Know one, teach one... which is a restaurant started by an australian dude who trains street kids).. Halida beer - which only seems available up here in the north - and tastes pretty good... and I even sat down and watched a DVD this afternoon (the life and death of peter sellers... not that bad actually) while eating a take away "caramel cream" and some "tizzarisu" from the bakery down the street.. (poorly spelt tirramisu I suspect it was, damn tasty).
All in all, hanoi is treating me pretty damn well.. though being overcast here seems to make absoloutely no difference to this sodding heat and the humidity is sky high - so I just spend all day with my shirt soaking wet with sweat... I hope it's bloody miserable and freezing cold when I get home - that first kiss of cool eye should be brilliant!
On the cultural side of things... I've been to see Uncle Ho this morning.. so I can scratch another dead preserved communist/socialist leaders body of the list... it's actually pretty good, I think the setup and surrounding buildings and museum are a lot "nicer" then the tacky shit they try to sell as you depart from chairman Mao's mousaleum.. that probably only leaves Lenin? Unless I've forgotten someone else.
At any rate, couple more days and I'll be flying home.. for the curious I'm expecting to touch down at around 12:30pm on the 16th of June... And I figure that friday I'll probably head out for some drinks or a meal somewhere if anyone in the Auckland region is keen.
Oh and tomorrow night in Hanoi, the Culi Cafe is opening there downstairs italian cafe... and it's free beer and wine for all... if you can make it, I'll see you there!