I had trouble trying to log into my email, go locked out in the end trying to manage a language other than english to get in! However, I was able to get into the blogs - so this is the message to all my family and friends.
Dympna and I are very comfortable ensconced here at the Hanoi Hilton. It is a five star hotel and we do agree with the rating. Yesterday we went to visit that other Hilton Hanoi - where the American pilots were locked up during the Vietnam War. It was a dark and gruesome place and I much preferred ours!!
Our trip across was very comfortable. After a little late start out of Sydney we arrived on time. We had several spare seats on the plane so Dympna and I had a row of three with one spare in the middle. It made for a very relaxing trip and the time flew past. I was still trying to finish a chapter in my book as we landed. Food was great, wine was great and Dympna and I and the other travellers walked and talked to pass the time.
Hanoi is interesting. Very hot and humid, quite different in architecture and rather 'seedy' in most parts. However the people are lovely and warm and friendly and we have had some interesting chats with those we have been able to converse. Our travel guide, Hau is young, handsome and smart. He is well suited to the job of trying to take eleven senior ladies of quite different interests and backgrounds around Vietnam. We are are enjoying each others company and Hau and ourdriver (we have our own airconditioned bus which is larger than required so we all have one two seat seat to ourselves. It is nice not to be crowded or hot. We are all struggling with the humidity.
Today (Wednesday) we were meant to go to Halong Bay for a tour and a cruise and a seafood lunch on board. However there is a typhoon hitting the area at the moment so rather reluctantly we decided to have some time around Hanoi shopping. Some of our group went on a bus tour out to a minority village to see how the rural locals lived. They enjoyed the trip but were quiet shocked at the traffic in Hanoi as they approached the busy end of day on their return.
Last night after a long day of hot touring to the key sites, HO CHI MIN temple, museum and mausoleum and then on to the first ever Vietnamese university (from 1108CE) we had a nice lunch in an airconditioned restaurant and had some really delicious food. Light, spicy and fresh. Later we had cocktails on a five storey building rooftop overlooking the Lake of the Restored Sword. A sort of story like King Arthur and Lancelot's sword!
After that - Dympna and I had Pina Coladas for a starter - we attended the Water Puppet Show. VEry clever and quiet different. I found the music rather discordant but the instruments were interesting and it was nice to see all the local costumes and theatrics. The puppetry managed from under a swimming pool was very clever. It was all performed in a type of Opera Building.
Tomorrow we are going to visit the French Quarter and some markets before we fly our for Hue and points further south.
So far we are having a wonderful time and feeling quiet relaxed after our full body massage this afternoon. Dympna and I had a quite dinner in one of the Hilton restaurants. Very nice.
Love to all. Don't know when I will get close to another computer but I am missing you all.
Love and God BLess,