“Happy Water” (Vietnam)

This past week marked my fourth week abroad and City University’s Lunar New Year break. To celebrate the holiday, my family decided to meet me in Vientam for 9 days! It was an action-packed adventure as we traveled all over the country. We began in Ha Long Bay on a “junk,” otherwise known as a boat typically found in Asia. We spent one night sailing through the beautiful bay. Next, we headed for Hanoi, a busy city in northern Vietnam. We wandered the city filled with french-inspired architecture before boarding our over-night train car to Sapa. This area of Vietnam features many villages of tribal people. We hiked and biked through the gorgeous hills and rice paddies. We then traveled back to Hanoi for additional site seeing, including a ricksha ride around the city and a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show. On the sixth day, we flew to Da Nang, a more touristy area located along the coastline. My family and I had some custom suits made and biked around the area learning how to make traditional Vietnamese dishes. This trip was unlike any other – we directly interacted with the people of each area, learning their respective cultures, and we saw so much of the country in such a short amount of time. I am so lucky to have been able to go on my first adventure with my family. Now it’s back to school in Hong Kong, but I am sure I will be headed off on a second adventure soon with my new friends!

For pictures of the trip, check out the “Pics on Pics on Pics” page.

PS The title refers to, you guessed it, alcohol! Our tour guide in Hanoi used the term often to describe his festivities during the new year!

Also, here’s a more detailed description of the week’s events:

Night 1: Upgraded to business class on the flight to Hanoi from HK…a nice start to the trip! Was finally reunited with my parents at our hotel. We grabbed dinner and I was hit on by the waiter – we exchanged facebooks?!

Day 1: Up early for the three hour car ride to Ha Long Bay. Along the way we stopped and learned how pearls are formed inside oysters. We boarded our “luxury junk” for the night. We visited caves in the bay and went kayaking. I also got a massage and facial 🙂 The boat had the best food ever!

Day 2: Up at 6:30am for Tai Chi on top of the boat while it sailed through the bay…what a way to start the day! Got off the boat at 10:30am and drove 3 hours back to Hanoi for an afternoon walk around the city. We had dinner at a french cafe and boarded our private train car for our overnight trip to Sapa…sleeping on a train is a unique experience to say the least.

Day 3: Up at 5am in Sapa! Grabbed breakfast near the train station before driving to the hills of Sapa. We hiked 10 miles and were joined by three tribal women from one of the villages during our walk – forced, of course, to purchase things from them at the end. Sapa featured the most breath-taking views! Then, we had lunch at a local restaurant and went to our hotel for an afternoon of laying out and my second massage. I got horribly sunburned, of course, and we proceeded to walk around the town so I could show it off 🙂

Day 4: Finally a good night’s rest! We had breakfast before our 8 mile bike ride through the rice paddies of Sapa. We stopped to have lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, which was so yummy! We then returned to our hotel and were driven to the border of China and Vietnam before boarding the over night train again back to Hanoi.

Day 5: Yahoo for being up at 4:30am and back in Hanoi! We had breakfast and got a quick nap in before another day of site seeing. At 9:45am we began with Ho Chi Minh’s moseleum, then a temple, and “Hanoi Hilton” (a prison during the Vietnam war). We then had lunch on the streets with our tour guide – 4 of us ate for $8 total and it was by far the best meal I ate throughout the entire trip! Then, we each had our own rickshas for a tour around the city, followed by a traditional water puppet show. After, we got cleaned up and went to an authentic dinner with noodles, fried dumplings, and Vietnamese pancakes.

Day 6: Up early to fly an hour to Da Nang. We arrived and were met by our second tour guy who took us to Hoi An. After checking in, we went immediately to the tailor to get our custom clothes made. I got: a tweed skirt and jacket, grey pants, and a black dress. Mom got: the same tweed jacket, three pairs of pants, and a long shirt. Fisher got: a navy suit and 4 shirts. After the tailor we toured 4 places, including a Chinese temple, the Japanese bridge, an incense factory, and a history and culture museum. We then walked around town and grabbed drinks at “Mango.” We sat upstairs and had cocktails and appetizers over looking the water. After, we went next door to “Congo” for dinner.

Day 7: Up early for a bike tour of the surrounding areas of Hoi An, including villages. We stopped for lunch at someone’s house and learned to make a traditional Vietnamese dish. We also wandered the herb gardens they had. They gave us more food to try and we continued on to an older women’s house. Once there, we made sesame pancakes. Then, back to the hotel for an afternoon by the pool and our second fitting with the tailor. I also got my nails and toes done and met my parents for dinner in town. After, we had our second fitting, then went to bed.

Day 8: I flew back to HK early in the morning, while my parents relaxed and flew to Cambodia later that afternoon. Incredible trip and sad to say bye to them!

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