Monday, June 30, 2008

'Hanoi is a spell'*

A quick dip in the sea is a marvellous way to wake up. We proceed to spend a lazy morning on the beach where I read a few more chapters from ‘Life in Hanoi’ by Pam Scott, an account of locals’ and expats’ lives in the city.

Once again I come across the story of Christine Yu, who traded a luxury lawyer’s life in Hong Kong for the fickle world of fashion. She came to Hanoi with her husband and decided to use her imagination and the skills of the exceptional craftswomen to design handbags. The amazing part of this story is that her label made it onto the great catwalks of the world and onto the arms of famous Hollywood stars and important politicians. I make a mental note to visit the Ipa Nima store if we still have time when we return to Hanoi.

Back on the boat we enjoy more sights of islands and cliffs. We jump into the glowing lagoon for a swim before changing boats and anchoring in Halong Bay with many other traditional junks. The sun is just about to set over the surreal landscape. We’ve each got a Vietnamese beer in hand and on the faces of my fellow travellers I can see that it is not only me who will remember this trip as a highlight of my life.

When we eventually stumble into bed, Susi says: “The boat and all its facilities look exactly as it does on the brochure. We got exactly what we paid for.”

Friends and other travellers warned us that it is better to go for a more expensive tour organised by a tour company rather than a budget tour organised by a hotel. It turned out to be invaluable advice. The food on the boat is good, the guides are jovial and everything is clean and tidy.

Our last stop is the Amazing Cave, where Vietnamese soldiers used to hide during Vietnam’s many wars. Today it is set up for tourists with lights accentuating the natural wonder of the stalagtites and stalagmites.

As we approach the end of our tour a thick mist clouds the limestone cliffs and dark thunder rolls in. Soon it is raining and the whole scene takes on a fantastical edge.

We all become quiet. By now we are filled with about as much wonder as human beings can take in a few days.

* From 'Life in Hanoi' by Pam Scott


Anonymous said...

Wow, incredible pictures...felt like I was there. So well written. Lovely site! Thanks!
Omaha, NE

Anonymous said...

V. v. mooi. V. v. jealous. Miss you chica!



Zhazhuzha said...

Hanoi is sooooooooooo beautiful as well as ur article nicely written! Thank you for keeping memories alive!