Thursday, November 26, 2009

Before going to Sapa we took a 2 nite, 3 day tour of Halong Bay. It was very hard to figure out what was going to be the best deal. There are literally 100's of boats to go on. Every booking agent shows you the same boats in their pix and all charge a different amount. The whole enterprise is very incestuous. We changed boats and had people getting on and off our boat for different legs of the tour. Depending on how much you pay, the quality of the on-shore lodging varies and the quality of the boat food varies. We talked to some people who paid $70 and weren't real thrilled. After LOTS of looking and talking we paid $90 each for the tour. At Vietnamese prices it seemed steep, but really for $30 a day we got transported to and from Hanoi, meals and lodging.Not a bad deal really. In the end we were glad to have spent the money. Food was really good and the beds were clean and dry. I was surprised that at sea level in the tropics we had to wear jackets to stay comfy in the wind and rain. Being from Puget Sound in Washington state USA it felt very familiar. It is really a beautiful sight. Don't miss it and don't go cheap unless you just have too. We were there the end of Feb, 2009


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Friday, November 20, 2009


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In March 2009 we spent one day in Hanoi arranging a trip to Halong Bay and Sapa. We took the nite train to Sapa and stayed there for a few days. Sapa was a photographic gold mine. We loved it. Since it was our last stop before Hanoi I loaded up on souvenirs. Being willing to buy the local crafts earned us an honored position in the town for a few days. We were popular guys. The women hawkers can be very obnoxious and pushy. There were two, that were sales ladies to be sure , but were polite and pleasant and spoke enough English that they made good guides to the area. They escorted us to CatCat village one day and helped us negotiate a reasonable rate on the motorbike trip back up the hill. The next day they asked if we wanted to go to their village for lunch. We, of course said, "Yes" knowing that the "price" was going to buy some souvenirs.
Getting to know these folks, eating in their house, tramping thru their village, and taking photos was the top hilite of many on the trip.



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