Halong Bay and moreHanoi

Yesterday I returned to Hanoi after my tour to Halong Bay (which means Descending Dragon - nice name). Originally I was booked for the two day, one night trip, but after meeting the people in my group and seeing some views we decided to extend our tour by one day. This was a really good decision as we got some time for ourselves at Cat Ba Island.

Halong Bay was really wonderful! Going by boat around the islands and seeing the amazing views (photos will be uploaded shortly) and the fascinating caves was very relaxing after the intense experience of Hanoi. We kayaked around for a while as well - it is a great way to get close-ups of the great view. We also visited some floating shrimp farms with our kayaks and bought some cheap wine from them (cheap compared to the rip-off prices at the boat). Our group consisted of me, a Finnish girl Anita (we're still hanging out - going to Sapa together tonight), the American Allison, the German guy Steffan and three Israeli girls (Nomi, Vicki and Jen). Steffan, Anita, Allison and me rented motobikes (three bikes - two driver, Steffan was driving Anita around) at Cat Ba Island and had a great time with our drivers seeing the whole island by bike and just playing around and doing stupid stuff. Loads of fun! Afterwards we went for some Bia Hoi (local draught beer) with our driver and learned how to drink in the Vietnamese way (mot hai ba zeeoo - one two three drink)! Extremely good fun!

I will upload pictures from Halong Bay soon, I hope. I don't know how the Internet connection in Sapa will be, but hopefully it will be possible to upload them from there. After Sapa I'm going to Laos, so for the first time I somewhat of a plan that stretches further than the night. But then again the plans might change and I still don't know how long I will spend in Sapa.

Yesterday evening in Hanoi was great. We had some food with Steffan before he had to catch his train for Sapa (we'll meet up in Sapa I hope - he has some pictures and other stuff that I want - including my Vietnamese vocabulary book that I bought yesterday). Me and Anita went for some Bia Hoi (which always ends up with you meeting loads of new people and having a great time - but then again, what do you expect when the beer is cheap and good?). We ended up in a small bar with a Danish girl and a Swedish guy named Anders (practical I know) and some other "none-Scandinavian people" as well.

Today I've been chilling in Hanoi with Anita. We went to the train stations and tried to find the cheapest possible tickets for Sapa. From $16 for a soft bed we went to less than $5 for a hard seat in the slow train. We don't mind sitting there that much and the chances of seeing some locals and getting some great experiences are much bigger. Will be loads of fun. The rest of the day we've been drinking coffee (ca phe sau da - yummie!) and playing cards at a cafe. Very nice!

I have confirmed that my holiday is extended now which means that I'll be back in Sweden in mid-April probably. I still don't know whether I can (or want to) reschedule my flight, but I'll probably go for the transmongolian train home instead - that's what I wanted to do originally so why not do it now that I have more time?

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