Day 62, July 11: Fly Dragonair back to Hanoi, Pre-flight our airplanes and fly to Macau. (865 NM)

Our aircraft remained free from any typhoon damage—-as a precautionary measure we left them in Hanoi rather than risk damage in Hong Kong. Actually, despite all warnings and preparations (store closings, sand bags ready) the typhoon ended up a non-event in Hong Kong.  Loved our stay in Hong Kong...we had a great suite and great views at the Peninsula Hotel.

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From our corner window: the UBS building. We enjoyed a fun dinner celebrating Georgia and Diann’s birthday–top floor restaurant.

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Sunrising…0530 alarm to start our journey back to Hanoi. View out our window.

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The Peninsula Hotel surprise: birthday greetings and cake.

Macau...we had just visited yesterday! One large part of Macau I left unmentioned: it is very much like Las Vegas–casinos, huge hotels and entertainment.

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Today was a very full travel day, an interesting way to spend my birthday.  Up early for commercial flight to Hanoi. Our Hanoi stop ended up being a hassle getting back to our airplanes across on the other side of the airport. Once permission to start up, clearance received, take-off roll progressed we had a very smooth departure procedure.

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Military aircraft in rounded hangers.
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Departure procedure out of Hanoi.
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Farm land landscape of Vietnam.
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Flight plan out of Hanoi: route is over Gulf of Tonkin, southeast to Da Nang, left turn northeast to circumnavigate Hainan Island. MUST stay out China’s airspace. (General aviation not allowed.)
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Parallel track off-set enroute to Macau. First time use for us—Garmin 1000 made new method easy.
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Macau airport environment–created on a peninsula/island and taxiway connect with a bridge-like structure.
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Taxiway with water on right and left.
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Three “follow-me” cars seem to get the job done!
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Hot and tired after a long day!
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Another birthday cake for Diann!! Actual date.

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Day 61, July 10: Ferry ride to explore Historic Centre of Macau

Cotai Water Jet from Hong Kong to Macau: three hours to see Macau. Michelle and George were excellent tour guides and focused on the Historic Centre of Macau. This Historic Centre is inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2005.

A-Ma Temple: The variety of pavilions dedicated to worship of different deities in a single complex make A-Ma Temple an exemplary representation of Chinese culture inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple folk beliefs

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A-Ma Temple already existed before the city of Macau came into being. It consists of the Gate Pravilion, the Memorial Arch, the Prayer Hall, the Hall of Beneveolence, the Hall of Guanyin, and Zhengjiao Chanlin (a Buddhist pavilion).
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St Dominic’s Church founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests who originally came from Acapulco in Mexico. The first Portuguese newspaper was published here on Chinese soil.
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We appreciated the Portugese style tiles throughout the Historic Centre.
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Holy House of Mercy. Established by the first Bishop of Macau in 1569. First western-style medical clinic and several other social welfare structures that still function today.
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St. Augustine’s Church was established by Spanish Augustinians in 1591.

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St. Lawrence’s Church, built by the Jesuits in the mid-16th century, is one of the three oldest churches in Macau. Situated on the southern coastoine of Macau overlooking the sea, families of Portuguese sailors used to gather here on the front steps to pray and wait for their return.

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St. Josehp’s Seminary and Church, established in 1728, was the principle base for the missionary work implemented in China, Japan and around the region.
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Senado Square has been Macau’s urban centre for centuries, and is still the most popular venue for public events and celebrations today. The square is surrounded by pastel colored neoclassical buildings.
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Our time was limited so we were unable to visit the museum of the Macau Holy House of Mercy. As a former Sister of Mercy—Diann wished there had been more time!
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Dom Pedro V Theater, built in 1860 as the first western-style theater in China with a seating capacity of 300..
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Moorish Barracks, built in 1874, this neo-classical building was constructed to accommodate an Indian regiment from Goa appointed to reinforce Macau’s police force. Now it serves as headquarters of the Marine and Water Bureau.
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Lilau Square: The ground water of Lilau used to be the main source of natural spring water in Macau. The Portuguese popular phrase: “One who drinks from Lilau never forgers Macau” expresses the locals’ nostalgic attachment to Lilau Square.

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Our return to Hong Kong via ferry boat left us with time for George and Michelle’s stop at the tailor’s shop for last fitting and pick up of new suit and the 6:30 dinner at Jimmy’s Kitchen to celebrate Diann’s birthday.  A very full day!!

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Dinner at Jimmy’s Kitchen. A celebration with Michelle & Geordy.
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Flaming baked Alaska…Yum, yum.

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Days 59, Day 60, July 8 & 9: Three Typhoons in South China Sea—Commercial flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong on Dragonair

Getting up early for a commercial flight is very different for this crew….but, all went well and Hong Kong is a totally different city from Hanoi.  Hong Kong is an Asian banking center. Tall buildings…building cranes are everywhere!

July 9: Our tour guide took us to Victoria Peak for an amazing city view.  These photos are a mere sampling….

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Space is a premium…even for graveyards.
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Overlooking city from Victoria Peak….Hong Kong is hazy today.

Our little boat tour of the fishing village showed how many people live on their boats and make their living fishing. A huge number of boats were moored this afternoon because of the expected typhoon.

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Large boats moored in the bay…away from the storm.
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Sampan boat — just like the one we rode touring the Hong Kong Bay.
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“Fancy” painted boat restaurant in the bay. Our director noted that the back side is not so nice. Clearly a common tourist appeal!
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Example of floating village and fishing boat.

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Colorful, delicious Chinese food at the Mask.
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Bruce Lee
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Jackie Chan
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Great fun With Michelle & Geordy.

Time for ethnic lunch at “Mask” and enjoy the waterfront walk noting stars to honor heros.

Day 58, July 7: Last evening (July 6) and leaving Halong Bay for Hanoi, July 7

0600 Tai Chi session on sundeck, coffee and off to the lagoon at Luon Cave on a tradidtional rowing boat.  Rumor has it there might be monkeys in this wild area—but, we did not observe any.  Once back on the main Paradise cruise boat we enjoyed another breakfast and the last hours on this beautiful bay. Soon we returned to Tuan Chau Island, disembarked and were on our way back to Hanoi. Once again we enjoyed seeing the countryside, the little towns and the rice farming.

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Rock formations on the ceiling of cove cave.
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There were several boat women out to sell their concessions to tourists arriving and leaving the cruise boats.
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Rice fields…there were several grave yards tucked in the corners of some of the fields. Very different.
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The early morning explorers.
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More cave views.

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Once settled back at the Sofitel Metropole we had a 1 1/2 hour pilot briefing reviewing the weather (three hurricanes in the Pacific) and considered options. Conclusion: if and when the  typhoon hits Hong Kong, we prefer to avoid our aircraft run the risk of damage by tropical storm.  Agreed to fly commercial, Dragonair, to Hong Kong in the morning then return to Hanoi for next part of the journey.

Day 57, July 6: Second day of Halong Bay cruise

0600 Tai Chi session with Michelle and George, morning coffee and off to a bamboo rowing boat visit to the Vung Vieng Floating Village with its school, museum, tiny floating houses and the kind villagers.

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Floating village, school and Pearl farm.
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Look, a pearl!!
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Natural arch…a cool breeze made this a pleasant experience to explore.

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After lunch onboard our day-boat, Paradise Explorer, we explored Vung Ha area where we dropped anchor for kayaking, swimming and just enjoying the amazing scenery with its charming serenity.  This serenity was disturbed by adults making several HUGE waves in the water—wet towels and wet deck resulted from the fun jumping and diving expedition!

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Michelle & George
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Our fearless leader, Thierry, in his new outfit.

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Day 56, July 5: Bus transfer to Halong Bay for our Cruise on Paradise Luxury

Our morning departure to Halong Bay took us on a journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta. We had the opportunity to observe everyday life of Vietnam’s villages as we saw villagers work the local rice fields. We arrived in Halong and boarded the Paradise Luxury for our 2 nights cruise on Halong Bay. Cruising this delightful Bay we reveled in its tranquility as we escaped the bustling tourist sights.

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Michelle, George and Tom took the afternoon option for a small  boat ride to an island, hike up about 700 stairs to enjoy both the view of the Bay and the limestone formations in the Sung Sot Cave.

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Cocktail hour was a beautiful time.

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Chief Nam gave a wonderful cooking class: Vietnamese Spring Rolls!
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Diann’s effort at spring rolls.
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George and Warren met the spring roll challenge!

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Cocktail hour and sunset — enjoyed!

Day 55, July 4: Michelle & Geordy join us! Tour Hanoi’s Old Quarter in a bicycle rickshaw.

July 4: a morning tour of Hanoi by rickshaw was a visual and olfactory experience!  We toured the city’s Old Quarter aboard bicycle rickshaws called cyclos. In this part of town we found each colorful street devoted to a particular craft or ware. We were pedaled amongst the quaint French buildings along Shoe Street, Silk Street and Banner Street (to name just a few), and ended at historic Hoan Kiem Lake, the social center of Hanoi, where we were transferred by bus to Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (a small and unimpressive experience).

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Electrical lines….not near our safety codes!!

After a very hot and humid morning we enjoyed lunch and a rest in our beautiful Sofitel Metropole Hotel.  Michelle, George, Tom and I braved the hussle and bustle walking to the Old Quarter shop and find a local bar for a beer.  Apparently, the locals prefer to have their little shops (first floor store front of their homes) over office work. Many shop owners make just enough to get by. Their social life includes coffee, lunch and tea breaks with friends sitting on little chairs in a circle right on the sidewalk to visit.  This set-up adds to the challenge of walking the sidewalk and streets—not to mention dodging the huge volume of cars and motor bikes dashing around you. Slightly scary on your first outing!