i realize i posted WAY too many photos last time - was being lazy and rather than selecting one by one, i selected all and and then deselected. won't be doing that again.
i forgot to mention that on the way to and from halong bay, the shuttles stop at these centers that employ people who are disabled from agent orange. they are huge and have lots of things for sale, and an area where you can get snack food or order cooked food. they have these unbelievable artworks hanging all over the walls, and people at sewing machines creating them. they look like paintings, but are actually intricately sewed pictures. i really wish i would have left extra room in my backpack!! (no photos are allowed at these, so you will have to settle for my very non-national geographic like description.)
so, back to the boat. did i mention the food was amazing? well, it was. the only downside to our dining was that we sat w/this french family and the dad kept complaining about the food and refusing a bunch of things and was afraid that the refrigeration was inadequate, etc. etc. we tried to ditch them after the first meal, just as the staff was announcing "keep your same dining seats for the whole trip." ahhhhhh...realized that the only negative to getting a boat on the fancier side was the snobbishness of the other travelers! there was a lot of great seafood, fresh vegetables and fruit, yummy soup, and we even did a cooking class where we made our own spring rolls. which were delicious. if a bit misshapen.
there were lots of other boats in the area
at the village there was a woman getting pearls out of oysters
back at the big boat we had a "sunset" party, but it was still way too hazy/foggy to see any sunset
this woman was awesome - she had a boat full of stuff to sell people on the big boats (cigarettes, snacks, drinks, supplies, etc.) and she ran off another lady entrepreneur and could row close enough to catch money and throw the purchases up!!
our sail going up
our room again. it was so cool.
i could have lived on the top deck! it was so great and i got a private tai chi lesson in the a.m. since i was the only one up there at 6! i know - all of you reading this who know me think i am lying. i swear. the whole time change thing really helped me. the first several mornings i was up at 5:45 or so.
the second day on the boat we took the little boat to a limestone cave that you can walk through. it was really cool, well maintained, and lit up in many spots. still difficult to get photos, but here are a few that ian got.
love this photo - this was taken where the little boat is docked on the mainland
we got dropped off by the shuttle at the train station in hanoi since we were taking an overnight train to hue. met teddy and lisa and they brought us to dinner at a really cool courtyard type place with a big canopy over the middle and a bunch of places to order food from around the outside.
next time: dirty details of the train, historical hue, and harrowing traffic tales