Thursday, November 22

Vietnam-Cambodia, Day Six: Hanoi

Even while lounging on a boat we couldn't escape having to get up early. We had a clear itinerary this morning and after breakfast we headed straight for the magnificent Hang Sung Sot caves.

Second on the list for that morning was to climb the Ti Top mountain. It was quite the trek up, but the view was worth the countless steps up. After we got back down we had a quick swim on the beach as a reward.

And that was pretty much it for Halong Bay - we realised exactly why we had to get up so early this morning as we lunched at 11:30am to make it back to shore for just after noon. The return minibus journey got us back in Hanoi for around 5pm. Although I have no regrets in visiting Halong Bay, I wouldn't call it particularly amazing in terms of money or time spent.

After catching our prayers we set out to roam Hanoi. We walked through the market and Beer Street, before settling into a neat little diner for dinner, all before catching the (in)famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre show. That was pretty amusing, particularly if you don't know what to expect, and despite the kitsch I have to admit it was quite informative about the geography and make up of national Vietnamese society. Photos here.

After stocking up on supplies at a local supermarket, I split up with the group to finish off Hanoi on my own. I took in the tourist's checklist of the lake, the cathedral, the opera house and old gate, but also had a chance to hang out soak up some of the local atmosphere - which of course had to include a visit to the Kem Trang Tien ice cream parlour.

I have to say, I really kind of like Hanoi. Given more time it seems like a decent place to simply have hung out in. Photos here.

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