Saturday, November 30, 2013

Halong Bay 2D1N Cruise 16 Nov; 4D3N Hanoi Retreat 14-17 Nov Day 3&4

Hanoi Day 3
16 Nov 2013

What's not to miss after a peaceful night? The sunrise. The crew member who spent the whole night with us told us that the sun rises at 6am. Of course, I would not want to miss it. My alarm rang at 6am and when I woke up, the sun had already risen. =( The sun will rise at about 4.30-5.00am, I think. Nevertheless, I still went up to the deck to take some pictures of the glory morning view. Below are the pictures taken by Gibson (which I will credit) and I.

Credits to Gibson

Credits to Gibson

Beautiful yet gloomy, Canon S100

Our deck

Our bedrooms along the corridor

We got to choose our ala carte lunch menu during our breakfast. While eating, our tour guide Alex briefed us on our next activities which I had stated on my previous blog post on Hanoi Day 2

I picked Chicken and Scallop for my ala carte lunch.

Apple Juice

Breakfast Time




We had to take a rowing boat, 4 by 4, in order to get into Vung Vieng Fishing Village. I can't imagine myself living in such a village - quiet, peaceful and simple. The villagers earn their living mainly through fishing and exporting out to the city. There were kids in some household, smiling and playing around happily. I believe their childhood must be very different and interesting - watching their parents catch fishes, using row boats as transportation and no iPad/iPhone. Nowadays, I've seen many kids holding an iPad in Singapore. Well, there's nothing wrong with it but I feel that kids should be more active physically than being addicted (perhaps a very strong word) to an interactive screen. Okay, enough of my thoughts. Please don't find it offensive, I'm just sharing my view. =)

LF Gibson JH HP on the first rowing boat out

We share the boat with our tour guide, picture taken by Alex

Alex, our tour guide



Moving into the territory of Vung Vieng Fishing Village
Happy Kids #1, credits to Gibson

Happy Kid #2, so shy! No worries, the picture was taken far enough to not expose any private part of his
Cute floating house - every household will have at least one boat


Happy kids #3 - the older kids were helping their mother while the younger sister watched at the door


The only school in Fishing Village
Here we are, reaching the floating school with historical items and a souvenir shop. Credits to Gibson.


The little boy learns to stay still while his mum is rowing the boat

Classroom - so old school to us (pun intended), yet it's their lifestyle in the 21st century
6 of us with Tour Guide Alex at the Floating School
Things they sell in their souvenir shop #1

Things they sell in their souvenir shop #2

Things they sell in their souvenir shop #3

Things they sell in their souvenir shop #4 and they have computer with broadband! Made us realize that they aren't that rural afterall. A good relief. :)

Things they sell in their souvenir shop #5
History about the fishing village

Artifacts in Fishing Village

Simple wall with nets to illustrate the lives of the villagers


Paintings for sale


Another classroom with computers - for the higher level education
The school in the village is really very simple as compared to the schools in Singapore. I don't know whether we are blessed or not, it's subjective. They have limited educational facilities, we have almost the best of everything, yet our stress-level seems much higher than them. I always have many thoughts running through my mind whenever I go overseas. I tend to compare the standard/way of living with Singaporeans very much. Hopefully all these are good reflective moments for me, as I will appreciate my little red dot even more. =)

We left the school and took our previous rowing boat to another place that develops and sells pearl. The scenery was really fantastic while we were on our way. We even came under an opening of an island where we can see all the different formations underneath. Wheeee~ What a beautiful morning!










Caught in action - Villagers hunting for fishes
Putting small 'pearl' into the oyster; Credits to Gibson
The 'immature pearl' vs 'matured pearl'
Yup, now I know about the production of pearls. Quite interesting to see. They do sell necklace, earrings and other pearl-jewellery as well. Do bring lots of cash (USD) if you wish to purchase. We didn't spend much time at the pearl shop and proceeded back to our cruise via a motor boat.

Check out time was 10am and we were supposed to pack our stuff, leave our room and place our luggage at our door step if we need them to help us ferry our bags to their office. Lunch time started at about 11.30am but we were already waiting at our table after 10am. =P

Wearing the robe provided, quite nice eh :)
My dish of scallop and chicken

Beef on HP's. Credits to Gibson.
Yea.. The shore's nearing and we gonna disembark. =(
I was so sad that the 2D1N cruise has ended. It was really enjoyable. This tour to Hanoi will not be as interesting without the cruise trip in Halong Bay. I would strongly recommend you to have a 3D2N cruise if you wish to experience further as you will be BBQing on the beach and dining in a cave on the 2nd night with Indochina Junk! Anyway, our journey has not ended yet! We were being driven to Yen Duc village in Dong Trieu province to watch a water puppet show performed by the locals. Yen Duc village was about 1-2h ride away from Halong.

Entrance to the puppet show. Credits to Gibson.

Start of puppet show

2 Dragons dancing in the water

Farmers cultivating crops
The water puppet show depicts the daily life of the locals. Even though we couldn't understand what they were speaking as it's all in Vietnamese except the title of each show in English, the movements of the puppets were quite comprehensive and funny at the same time. Worth a visit for an experience.

What we dragged the most.... The journey back to our hotel. It's a long 3h ride.... On our journey back, we started hearing the horns all over again. Haha. Halong bay was too peaceful! Super huge contrast. We arrived at about 5.30pm at our 2nd hotel in the Old Quarter - Hanoi Glance Hotel.

Initially, we booked 2 rooms for 3 person each but they ran out of hotel rooms in Hanoi Glance Hotel, thus the kind receptionist gave us 3 rooms in their sister hotel just next door - Glance Beauty Hotel. She was very friendly and similar to the receptionist from Rising Dragon Grand Hotel on our first day in Hanoi, she took out a map and described to us the areas & to-dos around our hotel. The service standard in Hanoi is really AWESOME.

Glance Beauty Hotel Level 2
Our King sized bed. =D

LG TV, free mineral water and tea/coffee

Our normal shower
Super shower on the corner rooms for the other 4!! So fortunate! However, they have a queen sized bed instead of king's
Now I gonna introduce a place that sells delicious phở - famous Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles, a few herbs, and meat (usually beef). This place is a must-go if you love phở.

Phở Sướng
Address: SỐ 24 NGÕ TRUNG YÊN(ĐINH LIỆT), HOÀN KIẾM , HÀ NỘI
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phosuonghn (can't believe they actually have a FB page!)

Phở Sướng is located at the Red Crossed area - pardon my amateur map and ignore the Points A and B
It's not easy to spot as it's located in a tiny street called Ngõ Trung Yên along the stretch of Đinh Liệt street. Follow my instruction below and I'm sure you will find it.

Depending on where you're coming from, since I stayed at Bat Su street, I turned into Đinh Liệt Street (top of the map) from Hang Bac road. Walked about 3-5min along Đinh Liệt and look for 4D Đinh Liệt (in the pic below).

4D Đinh Liệt - Clothing Shop opposite the entrance of Ngõ Trung Yên
From there, you could see an opening to another street named Ngõ Trung Yên. Just a few steps away and you will be able to spot Phở Sướng.

Phở Sướng

Phở Sướng

Phở - VND 45,000 (approx. SGD 2.82)
This was the best Phở I had in Hanoi so far! Soup was yummy, especially after adding some small red chilli which was provided on the table. The beef was good and the noodles' silky smooth! Very delightful to have this bowl of hot noodles on a chilly night in Hanoi.

Next, we walked passed a random roadside stall selling Chinese doughnuts lookalike - bánh tiêu at 64 Cầu Gỗ. The bánh tiêu was VND 1000 each, it's crunchy but not very tasty. We bought 3 to share among the 6 of us as it can be teared into two thinner slices per bánh tiêu. However HP wanted to have her own share and the uncle actually kind enough to give her an additional piece for free! Vietnamese are so nice! :)


Bánh Tiêu
As LF was craving for some western food, we stopped by Hồ Gươm Cafe/Restaurant at 28 Hang Dao, Hoàn Kiếm. We ordered Carbonara, Pepperoni Pizza, Spring-roll with Prawns to share and a drink each. While waiting, there were two women carrying a basket of breads approached us separately for the sale of the breads.

Hồ Gươm Cafe/Restaurant - Credits to Gibson

Saigon Beer and Hanoi Beer - Very much prefer Hanoi Beer!

Cute spade carving with the guava


Hot Chocolate

The bread we bought from the bread seller holding a basket of breads

Carbonara and Pepperoni Pizza

Vietnamese Spring Roll with Prawn
The drinks were pretty decent, however the food were below average. Don't bother trying this place as there are many other good places for western food in Old Quarter area.

We set off again from the restaurant to Hang Dao - Dong Xuan Night Market. While making our way there, we saw Lotteria (Fast-food chain which started in Nihonbashi, Tokyo in 1972). They pasted an Ice Cream ad in the picture below which totally drew us into Lotteria!

VND 3000 (SGD 0.20) Ice Cream Cone!!!! - Credits to Gibson

The 20 cents culprit which seduced us into Lotteria

Fried Calamari

Fries - I love their fries!

Shake Shake Chicken
The night market was super crowded with mostly locals and some foreigners. Their night market's only available on Fri, Sat and Sun night. Based on how the stalls are lined up, there were two lanes for you to walk. You have to be on the correct lane as they moved in different directions. This is something unique about Vietnam - even though there's hardly any traffic light nor traffic controller, the people seems to know where they should head to. I saw many families with their kids along the long never-ending street of night market. Very nice weekend 'walkathon' for the locals. You can find food, clothes, shoes and many other stuffs in the Night Market. :)










There were kids selling rats! Eww



Their version of 'Neo-Print'


Small alley selling hot pot


And so, we ended our night at Comga, the cafe that we went to on our first night in Hanoi. They have free wifi and nice atmosphere. We ordered egg benedicts and chicken pie for sharing, as well as our own drinks. Everyone's so shagged at the end of the day.. We checked out from our cruise, had a 3-4h bus journey back to Old Quarter from Halong and walked through the entire night market.



HP's stealing some nap time, LF checking out Instagram using my phone and I'm just too tired to smile for the camera

Smile for one last time for the night! =D

Our drinks

Egg Benedict and Chicken Pie
Hanoi Day 4
17 Nov 2013

Alright, let me quickly finish up Day 4 as there isn't anything much to talk about. We finally had a later breakfast at our hotel, relative to the previous days, at 9am. Yes I know 9am was still early! Glance Beauty Hotel also has buffet style breakfast and you can feel free to order those on the menu as well.

Lovely seating for me and YH






Their version of scrambled eggs - credits to Gibson
We had to leave our hotel for airport at 1pm as our flight TR2309's at 4pm and our hotel staff pleasantly extended our check-out time from 12pm to 1pm for free! They helped us booked a 7-seater transport to the airport for VND 420,000 (USD 20/SGD 26.25), about SGD 4.38 per person. Since it's the last day, we asked the service counter at our hotel to recommend us some good places to purchase souvenirs.

Awesome stay, value for money
Credits to Gibson

Credits to Gibson

First souvenir stop



Wide selection of snacks!

OOTD while they were busy looking at snacks


Crab-shaped cracker
Highlands Coffee for a break


Group photo taken by Gibson at Highlands Coffee - Credits to Gibson


View of the bridge from the outdoor seating of Highlands Coffee




Magic Slimming Mirror
Wanted to have a second try but they were closed from 11am-4.30pm =(
Cat showing off her tail - credits to Gibson

*Scratch scratch*
BF and I came back to this stall (we had on Hanoi Day 1) as I love the food here!

VND 50,000 (SGD 3.13) for all these

Put the meat into the soup for a different taste!
Our cheerful and pretty hotel staff saying goodbye to us!



On our ride to the airport - Credits to Gibson
Airport Drop Off Point

Check-in Counter


Vietnam Airlines - many many planes in Hanoi Airport, it's just like SQ in Changi Airport
Checked in area - Credits to Gibson

The only restaurant in the airport, one on each floor. - Credits to Gibson

Moon's on the left of the plane

Sun's on the right of the plane
This marked the end of our 4D3N Trip to Hanoi. I agreed that this is a super duper long post. Thank you for reading and I hope that it's helpful to you as well! Please let me know if you need any advice or travel tips, I'll be more than willing to share. Leave a comment if you have any doubts too.

I love travelling. To travel is to live - Hans Christian Andersen.