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