Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reunited in Hanoi

March 26 Thursday

At the last minute notice, I had Auntie Myrna Corseco as my company for this Hanoi trip. I actually have other companions, but Ann Canoy's group would come from Singapore. We flew the night flight from Manila to Hanoi. Due to delayed arrival of the turnaround aircraft, we arrived at early dawn in the capital city of Vietnam. Fortunately, I have arranged our airport transfer, so somebody from the crowd waved my name on a piece of paper.

I would say that The Landmark Hanoi Hotel was more than nice hotel. Costing less than 20 USD a night, I had a value for money accommodation. We were ushered at the topmost floor (8th), Auntie Myrna and I each occupied the 2 suite rooms.

March 27 Friday

Aunt Myrna and I decided to just stroll around after breakfast, upon knowing that most tourist spots are within the Old Quarter or the old downtown of Hanoi city. Memorizing the major lines in the map, we crossed the _______ road passing the Lenin Monument and Vietnam Military History Museum. The guard informed us that the museum is closed on Friday.

So we headed on until we spotted the green field surrounding the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It was already 9am but the overcast kept the day cool. We got close to the heritage building joining the huge crowd of tourist. Just like the museum, the mausoleum also was closed that day. We only observed the changing of the guards every 15 minutes.

We returned to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum that afternoon when the ladies, Ann, Riza and ____, arrived from Singapore.

One Pillar Pagoda was actually located at the left side back of the mausoleum. That was where we lingered for awhile because there were souvenir shops and food stalls.

Aunt Myrna and I were fortunate to find the Temple of Literature that Friday morning. Along with plenty of tourists, we roamed around all the corners of the ancient university grounds. That afternoon when we accompanied Ann's group in the temple, it was already closed because a national affair was undergoing.


Ann and her lady-friends stayed in another hotel, but we shared meals and tours. It was actually Ann's and my reunion after our last meeting in Singapore way back 2013 (?). We both shared the same interest, traveling around the world. Only that I have yet traveled Southeast Asia. She had been to many other continents.

On our first day, we wanted to close it at Saint Joseph Cathedral but it was closed when we got there. Since it is located close to the famous Hoan Kiem Lake, we then proceeded to the lake's surrounding, picking ice drops and other foods to nibble, taking poses at the garden, the Red Bridge, the lake and the Ngoc Son Temple.

Then we separated ways back to our hotels to prepare for the next day's tour.

March 28 Saturday

We booked our Halong Bay Day Cruise at our hotel. We were advised to board the bus at 7am. We initially thought that the 5 of us would share the same ride. We knew that Ann's group will be picked up at 815am but our bus left for Halong at 830am without passing by their hotel. I was actually saving seat for them only to be reprimanded by the English tourguide. He said that the bus was in full sitting capacity. I did not understand it then until he confirmed that another bus will pick the girls up.

After the 4-hour drive, we reunited at the tour harbor. We expected to meet them in one of the stops where marble carvings are on display along with more souvenir items. The tour was so organized that there were numerous boats on the dock lined in a perfect parallel. It looked chaotic to note that there was huge crowd of tourists, tour guides busied in gathering their lots like herds. We had our lunch while cruising. Eating was the very first activity in the itinerary.


We arrived at the first stop, the floating village, just in time we finished dining. We were supposedly booked for a kayaking but in order to share the ride together the 5 of us hired a wooden canoe with a lady rower. We entered cathedrals of caves, bumping with other canoes and kayaks.

The highlight of the cruise was visiting Thien Cung (Heaven Palace) Cave, one of the biggest caves in Halong Bay, they said. The site was really developed for tourism purposes, lightings in different hues are scattered everywhere.

Since Auntie Myrna and myself would be flying back to Manila that following night, we proceeded to Hoan Kiem Lake upon our return to the city for last minute souvenir shopping. We separated from the ladies after we shared a dinner at the nearby KFC.

It was indeed a fun-filled reunion for Ann and me held in a different country, Vietnam.

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