Vietnam is littered with UNESCO World Heritage sites, and I am making my way through them. Ha Long Bay is beautiful bay with over 3000 limestone karst islands rising out of emerald water, which is simply breathtaking. What was not quite so breathtaking was our crew on our boat, who were the grumpiest group of guys I've come across, even after they had had their usual 4pm opium toke. That didn't detract at all from the beauty of the landscape, or the usual fun of jumping into the ocean (sorry, the Gulf of Tonkin) from the top deck.
After our wee excursion to Ha Long it was back to Hanoi, whose only redeeming feature is the coffee shop Baguette et Chocolat. It broke the bank every time we went, but the hot chocolate was sheer sex in a cup. Ooooh. But even that couldn't make me love Hanoi, just simply tolerate it. Ori and I did have one of our most Western experiences there though - watching MTV's TRL in our hotel room. Shamefully (or not?), we didn't know any of the songs that were played. None of them were good, that was for sure.
One of the worst features of Hanoi was the rip-off effect. Every meal was a serious dent in the budget, and to come to Ninh Bimh was a relief, just for the fact that dinner was costing 10,000dong ($0.60) rather than 30,000 or 40,000. Granted, we didn't exactly know what we were eating, but it tasted gooood. I had been reliably informed that Vietnamese cuisine is one of the best in the world, but in all honesty, I have yet to come across, this, even in the street food. Still, better keep trying! Nuoc mia however is delicious - its a drink made from ground sugar cane. Soooo yummy - a bit like "granny lemonade" for the family members who are reading. Still, can't drink it too often otherwise it will leave serious holes in my teeth.