One thing we forgot to mention from Part 1, was about the boat trip to the beach. We spent 2 nights and three days on boat. On the third day, we climbed off the main boat onto a much smaller boat. This small boat drove us to a really nice beach, on a distant island.
Bunches of other people on this island but I still liked it because I got to play in the sand building a sand fortress. Dad went swimming and mom read a book. Wish we could have stayed there longer.
Sadly, we soon boarded the big boat and headed back to the boat dock. A van drove us from the bay back to Hanoi.
In Hanoi, we booked a very inexpensive hotel. I forget the name but we arrived very late at night and we were so tired. While checking in, the dining area was just around the corner, in the dark with lights out. While waiting at the front desk, dad wondered over to the darkened dining room and something in a shadowed corner, about the size of a cat, caught his eye. This was no cat, he said the tail told him what animal it was. Too tired to deal with it, the next morning we skipped breakfast and checked out. The next hotel was more expensive and no ‘cats’ seen.
While in Hanoi, we decided to check out a water puppet show. The theater had live musicians playing on the side of big pool on the stage. The music was good, with live singers. Bunch of fancy, traditional Vietnamese dressed puppets running around on the top of the water. Couldn’t really follow the story but I think it had a happy ending.
Best of all, the food of Hanoi. Mom was thrilled with a French/Vietnamese restaurant and also the more basic street food was so tasty and so cheap. The French place had a super view of the city:
Several meals of noodles/broth on the street, I never tired of. So many families came out to eat on the streets, usually sitting in little plastic chairs put out by the food vendors. Few sights from the streets near our hotel:
Oh, one thing about the streets of Hanoi is that they are narrow, crowded and full of people walking, cars and worst of all, electric scooters. Walking down the street is no picnic, watch out.
Most of our time was spent in the Hoàn Kiếm District – center of the city, with its core in the Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake). People as old as my parents may know that US Senator, John McCain, aka “the maverick”, after being shot down, crashed his plane in Hoan Kiem during the Vietnam war.
My dad wanted to visit the prison where McCain was held, Hoa Lo Prison (The Hanoi Hilton):
Our trip over lapped the end of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Lots of flags, decorations on display.
The next day we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap is the closet town to Angkor Wat, a HUGE temple of something. Vietnam had been warm but we were warned Cambodia might be really warm. We love the heat. Especially, coming from the dry, bone cold Beijing.
In Siem Reap, we stayed in a hotel with a pool. Dad used it the most, mostly after his early morning jogs. He said it was way too hot during the day to run later.
Dad mentioned something about being chanced by a street dog once but I don’t remember seeing any blood so the dog must not have caught him. When he needs to be, Dad can be fast, for someone as old as 50 years old.
A popular way to get around in Cambodia is riding in a tuk-tuk. They are an open carriage usually pulled by a motorbike. We rode them to/from the airport and around town.
Dad looked for seat belts but no luck. We call dad ‘Capt’n Safety.’
Here is a good picture of a tuk-tuk and the driver taking a nap, inside:
Our first day in Siem Reap, we walked around, found some tasty noodles to eat. Also, walked by a gem shop and I had to go in. I bought about 10 stones….
The second best thing that day was getting a fish pedicure- letting tiny fish eat dead skin off our feet. This is very popular and very cheap. I enjoyed it, thought the fish tickled. Dad didn’t agree and didn’t keep his feet in very long.
He kept saying, “piranha!”
I liked it so much, after dinner, I returned for a second ‘treatment.’ Dad was happy because with this night pedicure, they gave Dad a free beer. What a deal.
The next day a tuk-tuk took us about 30 minutes out to Angor Wat, where we hired a tour guide to show us around.
This place is big, really big. Next stop, Angkor Wat…