Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 4 and 5 Ha Long Bay

Sorry for the delay but we did not have internet. It was worth it. After a false start we headed out of Ha Noi City by bus to Ha Long Bay. If you thought navigation in city traffic was stressful, just ask a few of our fellow travelers located either in the front or the rear with full view. Street lanes are only a suggestion. And there are no speed signs here. They are not needed. We saw many a live lawn mower, i. e. cows and water buffalo along the way clearing paths around the rice patties. Many a field has ancestral tombs in their center. Much construction is happening and the main power source in this area is fueled by coal. We stopped for the “happy” room and some shopping at a craft center set up to train children affected by Agent Orange. Their work was exquisite. Everyone was excited to board our boat at the bay. The scenery was beyond description and the food just kept coming. At one point we stopped to tour the caves and swim on the beach. Some with energy to spare also climbed the mountain for a grander view. A few even swam from the beach to the Junk. People in san pans continued to beg us to buy their wares. Eventually the water lulled us to sleep.

The next morning after breakfast, we hopped a small boat to visit a lagoon not accessible by our luxurious Junk. It is amazing this world created for us. No one wanted to leave. It was so peaceful after visiting the bustling city of Ha Noi. But alas, we needed to head back to the airport to catch our flight to Hue (pronounced “way”). It may have been the same route out but the trip was very different. We stopped for different “happy” room and shopping. Then shortly after, our guide asked if we wanted to check out this large church on the hill. He was curious. It was the Temple of Miriam. A Catholic church decorated with dragons. Inside were Stations of the Cross and typical Catholic configuration but I could not locate the tabernacle. A short way down the street we stopped at a typical village to check it out. As our guide introduced us, village people ushered us in providing wonderful hospitality. The children at first shy, continued to congregate, popping out to see the foreigners with the “big nose.” One elderly man welcomed us into his home and wanted to share tea. It turns out that he was 101 years old. The house was basically one room. A tribute to Ho Chi Minh took center place. He was part of the army and had certificates of honor commemorating his service on the wall. We wandered the streets (alleys) along side children, dogs, cows, bicycles and motor bikes. Each village is surrounded by rice patties where families make at least part of their living. Many work in the fields in the morning, rest during the heat of the day, and go back to finish in the late afternoon. We waved at many young children in a day care. A couple bags of candy brightened all the faces that were no longer shy to speak or have their pictures taken. The villagers also welcomed us into their newly built Buddhist Temple. Boarding the bus was a mixed blessing, we did not want to leave but the air conditioning was too good to ignore. Once back at Ha Noi airport, we prepared to make the one hour flight to Hue. No one looked forward to another flight so soon. Tonight we are staying at The Huong Giang Hotel (5 star) along the river. Tomorrow we will complete our service project. Catherine

1 comment:

Monica Neal said...

What is the Service Project that you all are doing while you are there? Thanks - Finals are going well.