Greetings from Hanoi, in North Vietnam!!

So, We arrived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) 3 days ago and then I flew to Hanoi the next day. This country is beyond words.

The end of my stay in Beijing was very memorable. We visited the Forbidden City on the last day, which was incredible. In the evening I saw an acrobatic show in a large theatre, and quite honestly, it was the most entertained I have been in my life. It was so good it brought tears to my eyes, and I was constantly cheering and ovating. The performance was just like a Cirque du Soleil – only better – and they even had little kids like 7 or 8 years old, doing contortions, and tumbling, plate spinning and balance acts. It was amazing, I almost felt like I was ready to go home, because nothing could possible beat that experience…

Except Vietnam did. I got up at dawn again to watch us enter Ho Chi Minh via the Saigon River. The river banks were scattered with stilt homes and rice paddies in the background as far as the eye could see. It was thundering pretty bad too, which added to the whole atmosphere. Arriving in Saigon – we visited the Reunification Palace, which is the state building that North Vietnamese tanks crashed through its gates on 30 April 1975, essentially ending the war and re-establishing a communist state. The two tanks there were on display. Saigon itself was completely insane – There are motorcycles EVERYWHERE!!!! – and no-one wears helmets, so there are about 30 fatalities a day. Its hard to watch, especially entire families with two babies all clutching on for dear life on a single bike. Obviously, crossing the street was quite an adventure in itself, Apparently, you just have to walk, and trust that the traffic will go around you!

You get the hang of it after a while….

The city was filthy and just as densely populated as I’ve ever seen. I was pretty sick, just getting over a head cold, so I didn’t stay out late. We paid about $3 for dinner, inc beer and then I headed back.

The following day we flew to Hanoi and then drove for 4 hours to the coastal region of Halong Bay. It was a quiet little tourist trap- where the female masseuses give oral sex and even offered it to me and a couple of my female friends – EWW?? We spent the evening drinking milk from Coconuts on the beach.

The following day we took a boat ride out in the bay. The scenery was incredible, If anyone has seen the movie Indochine – it was set here and I highly recommend seeing it. The islands are huge limestone cliffs jutting out of the sea which is emerald green. We visited the largest cave I’ve ever seen – and then had some time for swimming. We all dived from the second deck of the boat – it was crazy. We even swam like a 20 minute swim to a nearby island!! We then dined like kings on whole king crabs and shrimp. Definitely the highlight of my trip so far…

We are now back in Hanoi, which is slightly less hectic than Saigon, and very very French. There is beautiful french architecture and signs are in French also. I’m shopping right now, and then we have to travel back to the airport.