days one hundred and forty-two thru one hundred and forty-five: february 18 - 21, 2016
We spent our last few days in Vietnam in a beachy town called Nha Trang so I could get scuba certified. Yes, I finally decided to jump on the Jung Family Scuba Diving wagon. It only took me 10 years...hahaha! I joined another group of 3 people and spent 3 days doing a confined water dive (in a pool) and four open water dives (in the ocean). I'm glad I finally got over my fear and will be able to dive on our upcoming trip in Raja Ampat with Jonathan's parents. Here is a picture with my buddy, Danielle -- another fellow American from South Carolina and our dive instructor, Flo from France. We had a lot of fun together and quickly became real buddies over the 3 days!
day one hundred and forty: february 16, 2016: ba bể national park
We arrived in Ba Bể National Park today. Our original itinerary had us taking a boat down the river and visiting a cave along the way before arriving in Ba Bể Lake at the Mr. Linh's Homestay. Due to a mechanical issue with the boat, we swapped our itinerary for the last two days, so first we squeezed in something not on the itinerary, a visit to Thác Bạc Falls (Silver Falls), but known to foreigners as Silk Falls.
day one hundred and thirty-nine: february 15, 2016:
After another breakfast of bánh cuốn, we visited several different villages belonging to the Nong ethnic minority and spent the night in a traditional Nong homestay with Mr. Nung and his family.
day one hundred and thirty-eight: february 14, 2016:
Remember the bánh cuốn we had in Hanoi? Well, when we told Quang we had eaten it in Hanoi, he told us that we had to have it Đồng Văn because they made it the best. In Đồng Văn, it is commonly made with egg and served with a noodle soup and type of sausage. We had been looking forward to trying this for breakfast and were not disappointed at all. It was waay better than the one we had in Hanoi.
day one hundred and thirty-seven: february 13, 2016: ha giang to dong van
Soon after waking up, Jonathan went to take the photo below only to be accosted by several bees (maybe looking for their missing honey?) and got stung on the cheek and the back of his neck. It's the first time he's ever been stung so we were happy to learn that he wasn't allergic!
day one hundred and thirty-six: february 12, 2016: the long road from sapa to ha giang
After an early breakfast we hit the long road to Ha Giang. We passed many tea fields on our way and stopped to take some photos and smell the fresh tea leaves.
day one hundred and thirty-five: february 11, 2016:
This morning, we met our local guide for the day, San May. She was from one of the local minority groups, the Red DZao. The women of the Red DZao are easy to recognize based on their red head scarves. Married Red DZao women also cut their bangs very short to signify their marriage status. As they get older they change their head scarf to a much larger more decorative one. San May insisted that she will continue wearing the same scarf hoping to stay forever young. We headed north from Sapa up and over a hill, thru villages, past small homes and barking dogs to reach the extensive rice fields we would trek thru.
day one hundred and thirty-four: february 10, 2016: sapa
Our next eight days were spent traveling around Northern Vietnam. The tour company we ended up going with was Mr. Linh's Adventures. Jonathan initially found Mr. Linh on Google after researching multi-day trips that included visiting Sapa, a place we had heard great things about. After further looking thru reviews and their trip options we ended up choosing Mr. Linh's 8 day/7 night "Off the Beaten Path" trip.
day one hundred and thirty-three: february 9, 2016: hanoi
We arrived in Hanoi mid-day giving us a full afternoon and evening in the city. After checking in at our hotel we set out on foot to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater to get tickets for later that evening. Just as Jonathan walked up to the window to ask about tickets, the woman put up a sign stating that all shows for the day were sold out. As we stepped back to decide on what to do, a tour guide and his two guests walked up and were able to purchase tickets. I asked him if there was any way I could purchase the tickets thru him but he said there was no way. To our luck, he mentioned there was another theater across the lake! So we hustled to the other theater only to discover that they would not open for another hour or so.
day one hundred and thirty: february 6, 2016: arrival in ho chi minh city
This morning, we jumped on a quick flight from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. Extremely hungry, we checked in at our hotel, dropped off our bags and hit the road looking for some food. Thankfully, we were right near the Ben Thanh Street Food Market, which had a ton of food stalls all offering different kinds of Vietnamese food.