We had a lazy day for once as the flight was not until 8 pm. We had Kyle’s usual Tuk tuk guy Uncle Nan pick us up at Beatnik Bar and drive us to the airport.
It is just 90 minutes to Ha Noi, but it took almost twice that to get our Visas and get thru immigration once we got there. We finally made it to the hotel at almost 1 am and then of course went out for Pho noodle soup!
Our friend Huong has set us a busy program for today including a Vietnamese coffee bar, the Van Miou ancient university site, Ha Not Prison museum, Pho lunch, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, and a walk thru the night market.
Today is a tour of the Ho Chi Minh monument (the body has gone to Moscow for its yearly “renovation”, the Ho Chi Minh Vestige in the Presidential Palace grounds, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
This evening we visited the famous SEN buffet.
It is a 4 hour bus ride to the sea and the Ha Long harbor to board our ship for an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay. After boarding the boat they served lunch as we cruised out amongst the rock formations and islands.
We visited one island with a large cave and then another (Teetop) to climb way way way up to the lookout.
We were up today at 5 am for the sunrise and then visited a pearl farm.
The bus to Ha Noi dropped us on the side of the road an hour from Ha Long where Huong’s nephew picked us up in his 16 passenger van and we had another 2 hours to her “hometown” of Diem Dien.
Grand opening of the cafe next door.
Here we stayed in Huong’s house for 2 nights, toured the local markets (this caused quite a stir as they never see foreigners here), visited a clam farm, and of course a Vietnamese nail bar.
Today we learned that the predicted Typhoon has hit the mid coast of the country and flooded Hui and Hoi An. We will now have to change our plans and forfeit one leg of the plane tickets that routed us there. We can salvage one leg and re-book it from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh instead.
This still meant a drive back to Hanoi as planned and with a stop at the Trang An Grottoes and the Bai Dinh Pagoda Temple. At the grottoes you board a small row boat and you are rowed thru the caves and in a circuit on the waterways.
It is about 30 minutes over to the temple complex, which is said to have a 1000 Buddhas. It was raining on and off this afternoon.
We arrived back to the city after 7 and too late for the water puppet show we had planned, but this meant we had time to try some local delicacies in the night market.
Our change of plan sends us on a flight to the island of Phuquoc today. We stayed one night in a hotel in town and near the sea. We visited an orchid farm, the “prison”, and then spent the day at the beach. There is a pretty busy night market here as well.
The next day we moved to a 5* resort that had full board for 57 $ Canadian each! We had a 4 bedroom villa!
Gillian’s new burka golf hat
We flew back to Ho Chi Minh, stayed overnight and then had a 6 hour drive to the Mekong Delta at My Tho.
This included after 2 hours a stop to visit the Cu Chi tunnels.
The delta visit included a boat ride and was very touristic….Noodle making, fruit tasting, honey tasting…
Then we had another 3 hour van ride to Can Tho. This is a bit much to take. We finally arrived for dinner after 8 and we had to be up at 530 to go by boat to the floating market. We did see the sunrise over the river, but the 45 min ride up the river to see a few boats for 20 min was hardly worth it.
It was then 45 min back to the hotel and for breakfast.
We set off for HCM city and stopped at a Caodai temple on the way back. This is quite a unique place with it unusual beliefs.
We arrived by 3 pm to the city after a very heavy rain storm to dryer skies and to the same hotel we had stayed at the first time.
At 430 I got a call from our friend Bach to our room just as we were headed out for a walk that my mom had had an accident outside. I ran out and the bellboy pointed right down the block. As I ran up the sidewalk I met a foreign man that asked if I was looking for my mom. He had come to look for me coming from the hotel and told us she was at the restaurant at the corner 300 m away. When we arrived she was sitting with an ice pack and some tissues that were covering a nasty head laceration. She was confused and concussed, but had been able to remember her hotel and in fact had got them to log her phone onto the wifi and she had FB posted to us and sent a heart wrenching email i luckily did not get until later “come to the Alez Boo I am hurt”. Another foreign couple that were there had helped her back from the road where it sounds like she was struck by scooter in the zebra crossing. The ambulance also arrived then as well as our friends Huong and Bach and she came with us to the hospital with us. The ambulance ride took 45 min because of traffic and we arrived to a private French hospital. You pay for the Ambulance while you are riding in it. There is a nurse and a doctor with you. Though the extent of the care was a new dressing on her head. They did not even take her pulse or BP. I was the one checking her pupil response with my iPhone light to make sure she was not bleeding in the brain.
They were very efficient once we arrived. The care was not what we would get at home, but luckily she did not have life or limb threatening injury. She did have a clear CT of the head and normal Leg Xray and US. This was done at my request because of a massive thigh hematoma and a nasty lower leg gash. They finally sutured up the head wounds by about 9 pm. Gillian and Dan came just as they were finishing about 10 pm to check on us and bring some things to stay over night. It is a good thing I stayed as she had zero nursing care all night. The nurse came in at 1030 gave her an ice pack asked 2 or 3 questions and we saw her again at midnight. She walked into the room half way, did not turn on the light, and said out loud “seems to be sleeping well”. Not sure she could tell my mom was even alive from that distance. We did have snacks and long stem roses in the room though.
Mom was pretty mentally normal by midnight, but I set my alarm and woke her every 45 min. We asked to see the team ASAP in the am to get discharged as they were really doing nothing and she was traveling with 3 doctors.
So we took a taxi back to the hotel and got organized to head to the beach where she could relax.
We had this cool lie down bus for the 6 hour trip and we had a nice hotel where they upgraded us to nicer bigger rooms since the elevator to the 5 th floor in the building where we were booked was broken.
We had 4 days to rest and hang out by the pool and at the beach. Dan did get some kite surfing in as well.
We took a day tour out to see the dunes that left just after sunrise. We visit a fishing village as well. Mui Ne is a nice town, and is full of Russians.