Vietnam Unicycle Tour – Ha Long Bay and Hanoi (pre tour)

Unicycling

Well, we all made it to Vietnam without much hassle!

For those of you who just like pictures and don’t like reading, here’s the Picasa Web Albums link. I’ll upload new pictures to the same album throughout and post the starting picture. Not all pictures will be included in the blog posting.

I arrived a few days earlier to let myself acclimate to the time change and take in a few sights. While in the airport, I was flipping through Andy’s Vietnam Lonely Planet book and discovered Ha Long Bay. It looked gorgeous! The best part was there was a pre-tour trip planned for Sunday to Monday. I emailed the tour guide, Jason Williams of Grasshopper Adventures and got on board. Nathan Hoover and Matthew Wagner also jumped on board with me. There was a little confusion on Sunday morning when we left to go as the tour was operated by different people and they didn’t have a name list of who was going to go. Plus a few others also wanted to come along. But, in the end, there was enough room, so we all got on board a bus for the three hour drive to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi.

Now, driving through the Vietnam country side is quite a sight. We saw a lot of the typical rice fields, but one of the most amazing things is the Vietnamese love with motorbikes, and their inclination to transport anything on them. On the back of one, I saw a small cage piled with at least 8 baby pigs in it! There little feet were hanging out the bottom of the cage, and it was an unbelievable sight. On the back of another bike was a baby calf (already dead, and probably being taken to the butcher — which might be the purchaser of the calf).

Once we arrived in Ha Long Bay we took a small boat out to our “Junk”. A junk is basically an ornate Vietnamese house boat.

Some junks:


Some more from the cave (HDR):



We got on the junk and started tooting out towards the bay. Now, it is high tourist season, so we saw a *ton* of other junks in the area, and it was also an amazing sight. But, the best sights were to come; as we got closer to the islands it almost seemed like we were being taken to the Jurassic Park island. It seemed that at almost any moment a velociraptor would jump out at us and start eating the other guests. But alas, that didn’t happen.

The junk’s destination was a cave. I had no expectations on what the cave was, as I literally did no research on Vietnam before I came. So, we landed the junk and took the small boat over to the shore. The cave was amazing! It was this huge limestone cave that penetrated deep into the island. It was a little bit touristy, as the Vietnamese set it up with a lot of multi-colored lights, but the end effect was quite stunning.

The cave (HDR):

We walked though and then hopped back on the junk for dinner. The dinner was quite good; a multi-course meal of various things. Afterwards there was karioki (sp), which apparently the Vietnamese tour people love. We just made Jason sing.

The view from the boat at night (HDR):


The night was quite peaceful for sleeping. The day before, we slept in Hanoi, and it was incredibly load and filled with all hours of honking. The next day, we had a light breakfast and headed back to shore and took the three hour bus ride back to Hanoi. Halfway we stopped at a pottery/ceramic factory. It was quite cool to see the vietnamese making pottery, painting, and glazing it.

Glazing some pottery. The “white” side has a glaze applied that will become clear after it is fired:

After we got back to Hanoi, we met up at the hotel with the other unicyclists (total: 24) and headed out for our first group dinner. The first riding day will follow!

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Vietnam Unicycle Tour (Uninam) - Hanoi to Hue - Day 1

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