Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hanoi, Vietnam

We took our latest adventure to Vietnam at the end of June. It was cool to see another country, but we planned too much traveling and the trip was a bit hectic!

We had a 3 hour flight to Vietnam on Thursday night. It worked out great because the seat next to us was empty so we had a whole row to ourselves. They even served dinner and it was pretty good! Audrina did really well on the flight even though it was late. Once we got our visas and made it through customs, we had a 30 minute drive to our hotel with a driver that didn't speak any English. We made it to the hotel and the room was nice and clean and they had a crib for Audrina!

The next morning, Friday, we hurried and ate breakfast because our tour bus to take us to Ha Long Bay was early. We had a 3 hour drive to the bay with a half our break in the middle. Half an hour into the bus ride Audrina pooped and there was nowhere for us to change her. We had to wait an hour to get to the rest stop. I felt so bad because I know she was uncomfortable! Then at the rest stop/store/restaurant, everyone was wanting to touch her because she's so cute! She was not liking it and pushing people's hands away. We tried to keep moving so we didn't get too bombarded, but they kept following us.

Kissing Rocks

Lunch on the boat.
Once at the bay we took a small boat to the larger boat to drop our suitcases off and have lunch. Ha Long Bay is beautiful! It's got just under 2,000 small islands made of limestone cliffs sticking up out of the water. We got to visit one of the islands, Dao Ti Top, and hike up to the top for this beautiful view!

There were about 420 steps to the top.
View from the top of Dao Ti Top.

Then we returned back to the large boat and Damien went kayaking while I fed Audrina dinner. We had dinner on the boat and spent the night on it in a tiny room. We finally got to turn our air conditioning on at 5 pm. Thank goodness because it was so hot there in Vietnam! (I'm pretty sure it's the hottest place I've ever been to.) We had one bed that the three of us shared that night and I don't think any of us slept that well. Audrina woke up at 4am and was crawling all over us and poking Damien in the face. So we were up bright and early!


Our tour guide helped watch Audrina sometimes while we ate!
Saturday, we got to visit a cave system, Hang Sung Sot, before we left the bay and that was pretty cool!

Audrina and me waiting to hike up to the cave.
Damien crawled through this tiny tunnel to get to the other part of the cave. He said it was pretty tight in there!
Damien and Audrina inside of the cave with some stalactites.

The cave was huge!

On our way from the cave to the boat there were these tiny boats selling fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish.
Then we had the three hour bus ride back to our hotel in Hanoi. This time, no poopy diaper thankfully, but still swarms of people trying to touch and hold Audrina. Once back at the hotel we walked around looking for a place to eat because the place we wanted to go was all booked.

There is a lot of French influence from the houses to the bread.
We tried to see a water puppet show but they were sold out that night. Apparently Vietnam is known for these. We ended up eating at this sketchy place that wasn't very good. Thankfully nobody got sick!

There were lots of people selling fresh pineapples from the back of their bicycles.
Sunday, we got up, had breakfast, packed our stuff up and went out to find the restaurant we wanted to try the night before. We found it and had lunch there. It was delicious! It's called Essence Cafe. We had some fresh spring rolls, bun bo nam bo, chicken pho, and mango salad. All of it was so fresh and delicious! I was glad we were able to eat there before we left.

mango salad
Audrina enjoying her lunch!
We hurried back to the hotel and our driver was waiting to take us back to the airport. We made it to the airport and had plenty of time before our flight left!

Traffic is very chaotic and crossing the street is quite the adventure. Walk slowly and hope nobody runs into you!
The best part of the trip is this flight. (I'm being very sarcastic.) The flight was completely full and probably 3/4 of the flight was a Vietnamese tour group coming to visit Malaysia. I don't think most of these people have ever flown before because they were switching seats for about 20 minutes and then walking around and changing seats again when we were on the runway waiting for take-off. It was a bit chaotic!

We had two seats, an aisle and a middle and then there was a 17 year old French boy in the window seat. They served lunch on the airplane and I got to eat first while Damien wrangled Audrina. I was trying to eat as fast as I could and give her some of my food to help keep her distracted, but she was grabbing everything. I finally gave her a spoon to play with. That kept her occupied for a bit, but then she started trying to use it to eat the French boy's food off of his tray.

I finished my lunch and Damien started to eat his. Audrina ended up grabbing a butter packet off the trays, but oh well it was keeping her entertained. Next thing I know, she's punctured a hole in the packet and is quickly sucking down butter. She was so happy, but there's no way I could let that happen. We didn't want a sick child on this flight. I had to take it away and that made her throw a fit! She was already really tired from all our traveling on the trip and not getting much sleep. I tried standing up and sitting down. Damien tried to take her, but she screamed more. All the non-English speaking Vietnamese tour group just stared at us the whole time this is going on. I was trying to keep calm, but having a million eyes on you doesn't help the situation. The stewardess finally came and cleared our trays and I finally got Audrina calmed down and asleep!

She slept for a good while but it was a long flight and she woke up before we landed. I was holding her and was in the middle seat now. She started moving the arm rest up and down between me and the French boy. I tried to distract her with other things so she wasn't bothering him, but that didn't work so well. Next thing I know, she's reached over and grabbed a hold of this boy's seat belt buckle! I quickly removed her hand, but you could tell this poor boy was just wanting to get off the flight.

We landed, got through customs, and made it to baggage claim. Our bag was one of the last bags out and so we had to wait for about an hour!Then we had the half hour train ride back to our apartment. Luckily the train wasn't too busy and Audrina was good. We made it home and Audrina finally got to run around and play with her toys! But the evening wouldn't be complete without one more hiccup. 

Audrina found the spray sunscreen in our pool bag and was chewing on the top. She managed to take it out of the locked position and bit down on the top causing a burst of sunscreen in her mouth. I wiped out as much as I could, but there was drama. Damien looked at the bottle and it said we were supposed to call poison control if ingested. I'm pretty sure they don't have poison control here, so we just continued on with our evening. She ended up being fine!

It was quite the trip and I'm glad I got to see Ha Long Bay, but if I were to do it all over again I wouldn't take the trip to the bay. It's a lot of time and travel and it's hard on the little ones. I would have liked to explore the city a bit more and eaten some more yummy Vietnamese food! Now we know.

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