On December 19th, I packed up my bags, headed to the airport, and boarded my first of four flights to Hanoi, Vietnam! It took us about 24 hours, including an eight hour overnight layover in Kuala Lumpur, to get there. 24 hours! I could have flown back to the States in that time! This goes to show how far Kendari is from anything… it took us half a day just to get back to Jakarta…Over the course of 2 weeks, we traveled to five different places in Vietnam, going from North to South: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An, and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
I traveled with my friends, Kate, Caroline, and Daniel – all my fellow ETAs in Indonesia. We also ran into five other ETAs throughout our travel, who had similar vacation plans 🙂 Besides Kate, my sitemate, I haven’t seen the other ETAs since orientation, back in September, so this was an exciting chance to catch up with everyone.
Our first stop was Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the second largest city. Kate and I spent our first day exploring and eating Vietnamese food as we waited for Daniel to arrive later that night. Our second day was spent shopping, visiting museums, making arrangements for the rest of our trip, and finding Caroline later that evening.
After two days in Hanoi, we packed up and jumped on a tour bus to Ha Long Bay. Four hours later, we could see the ocean and massive rocks jutting out of the water – we had arrived. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the “New Seven Natural Wonders of the World”, Ha Long Bay is a breathless site.
We spent two days and one night on an old pirate ship exploring the Bay. We kayaked, ate, drank, played, jumped off the boat, and ultimately spent a lot of time sitting in wonder gazing at the beauty surrounding us.
After a four hour bus ride back to Hanoi, we had an hour to kill before boarding our 12-hour overnight bus to Hue. Yes, 16 out of 17 hours on a bus. Could have planned that better but oh well… we survived 🙂
We arrived in Hue in the morning, checked in to our hotel, and decided to wander the city and explore the Imperial Citadel. After exploring the palace and grounds, we met up with our friend Jukie to wander the market, and then went home and took a well-needed nap and finally met up again for a Christmas Eve dinner!
In an effort not to make extraordinarily long posts, you can find the second half of our Vietnam trip (including a motorcycle tour through the countryside, food poisoning, and New Year’s Eve festivities) in the next post… 🙂