Ha Long Bay

24 Mar
SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 2007 06:52 PM, ICT

We’re back! We had a wonderful trip to Ha Long Bay. There’s nothing else like it on the planet. We left on Friday morning at 8 & arrived in Ha Long City around 12. We had lunch & then boarded our boat. In order to board the boat we had to walk a gang plank from the dock to the boat. That was a little nerve-wracking with T~ strapped into the Baby Bjorn. We thought they were joking when we first say the plank. They weren’t. After we settled into our cabins we sailed to Hang Sung Sot Cave. We climbed over 100 steps to enter the cave & had a nice tour inside. It’s the dry season so we didn’t see any of the waterfalls, but the views were still spectacular. After we reboarded the boat (still with the plank) we sailed to an island with a small beach & a 400-step climb to the top to a viewing pavilion. J~, T~ & I climbed to the top, although I’m not entirely sure it was worth it. It was crowded & we still had to climb back down! We walked the plank back onto the boat & we set sail again. Supper was all seafood, shrimp (with attached heads), squid, & some kind of fish (also with its head). The others on our boat were all Australian except for the other OO family that we booked the trip with. It was great fun. We were so happy to get out of Hanoi & to see something different. Ha Long Bay is a beautiful place. The boat was nice, the company was great & the views were spectacular. We were constantly thinking Jack Sparrow & the Black Pearl were going to come through the mist. Check the flickr site later for pictures.

I almost forgot to mention that there is no difference between motorbike & car drivers in Hanoi & boat captains on Ha Long Bay. Our captain sailed like he was doing bumper boats. It was amazing. He parked that thing wherever he wanted. Don’t see a spot, well, make one! When we docked at the beach yesterday, he was able to squeeze the boat into a spot no one else saw. When we docked this morning he pushed one boat out & we had to disembark by climbing onto another boat & using their plank to get up to the dock. I’m not sure why he didn’t go around to the other side of the dock but we understand now that there is no rhyme or reason to driving in this country.

T~ did really well throughout the trip. We were unprepared for the numbers of girls who would grab her from our arms & take her away to show her off to their friends. I know they love the babies, but I generally don’t let people I don’t know walk off with my kids, so it was very hard. We learned pretty quickly to keep her strapped in the Baby Born so they couldn’t grab her. That didn’t always work either. When our boat docked at the beach a girl walked on the boat & insisted on keeping T~ on the boat while we walked around. We were able to convince the girl that T~ was coming with us but it took a while. One of the servers on the boat spent a lot of time holding T~, which we weren’t fond of but it’s a fine line between rude & being respectful. We’re definitely getting tired of people telling us what to do with T~. We’ve been told she’s too cold & needs mittens (it was mid-70’s that day), that babies under 3 months don’t go outside, & what to do with her various skin problems. We can’t wait to get back to the US where people mostly mind their own business.

Speaking of getting back to the States. We don’t know exactly when we’re leaving yet. We’re planning on all of our appointments being done next week. Monday we have our first Immigration appointment. On Wed. we pick up T~’s passport & have her medical evaluation. Our Visa interview, the last appointment, will either be Thursday or Friday. If it’s Thursday, we could leave Friday after we pick up her Visa. If our appointment is Friday, we can’t leave until Monday. Since nothing has gone as we’ve hoped we’re planning on a Visa appt. for Friday & leaving later Monday or early Tuesday. We really don’t like the thought of spending another weekend here but I’d hate to plan to leave Friday & have to extend again. Also the other 4 OO families will be traveling at the end of the week so if we have to stay, we’ll be able to meet them. We’re trying to have something to look forward to in order to make that last weekend bearable.

I hope you have a great weekend!

K~

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