Ha Long Bay

This UNESCO World Heritage site was truly impressive.  The drive from Hanoi was about 4 hours but well worth the trip.  Although the sun evaded us for most of the day, it was one of the highlights of our travels.  We made the mandatory stop disguised as a bathroom stop, at a marble, silk embroidery, Pringles factory on the way.  (We had made many of these factory pit stops in China where you are taken into see people working on local craft: sometimes kids, sometimes handicapped.)
Ha Long is a wealthy city that is developing rapidly.  The roads were devoid of potholes and we saw  many new, tall buildings.
Although our boat could have easily fit 30 people, we had it all to ourselves.  We visited several floating villages, shopped on the river and Bob got suckered into buying 4 large prawns for 800,000 dong($38)...after all, we are millionaires here, but I think we all need to work on our negotiating skills.  We had lunch prepared and served on board.  Boats pulled up along side of ours, and kids would jump on and try to sell us things.  We also had a sales presentation by the girl on the boat before we got off.  Communist or capitalist country?  Hard to tell.

Night Market

Saturday and Sunday nights are market night in Hanoi.  People sell their wares under tents.  It looks like they picked up their piles from the closed storefronts and moved them to the middle of the street.

Clean Air?

Lots of people here wear masks on the street.  The fumes from the scooters are overwhelming.  We had a masked visitor waiting for us when we returned to the hotel. Roger, who teaches at FIU and is a frequent guest in my classroom is traveling in the area and stopped by to visit.

Hanoi Traffic

It is well known that crossing the street is the greatest danger to tourists in Vietnam. Although a bit intimidating at first, the trick is to take a deep breath, step off the sidewalk and pray that the cars and gazillion of scooters will just steer around you.  Walk at a steady pace, don't stop and if you're lucky like us, you'll end up right in front of a foot massage parlor.  Our friends agreed to join us (we were provided plaid boxer shorts when we walked in and told to change) and 70 minutes and $7.00 later, we were ready to walk just about anywhere.