Hue, Above, and Beyond

Xinchao/Sawadee ka,
I’m back in Bangkok, having concluded my Cambodian/Vietnamese adventures. I can hardly believe how fast it has gone. I’ve done just about every mode of transportation and saw all sorts of stuff. Most of the time, the experiences were fabulous. Made a few new friends to boot. Let me bring ya’ll up to speed on the last week:
The last week has been very fast-paced, and that’s why I’ve been so quiet. Spent a few days in Hoi An, formerly known as Faifo. Lovely quaint town with tailor shops galore and tourists to boot. Spent almost 2 days in Hue, the former capital of Nam. The highlight of that was a motorcycle ride, driven by “Minh the Merciless” through alley ways and countryside. Also took a brief cruise on the Perfume River. From there took the Reunification Express to Hanoi, a 13 hour trip. Spent the night with some folks I didn’t care much for, but at least they weren’t smoking and chatting all night like two of my fellow travelers experienced. Hanoi has broad tree lined boulevards, designed by the French, but the Soviet influence of propaganda billboards is noted.
The absolute highlight was an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, which, in spite of the droves of tourist boats, manages to maintain an otherworldly beauty–limestone karsts in an emerald sea. I kayaked (my first time) around about an hour, and there were places you could hear nothing but birds, almost as if time didn’t exist. Didn’t get pictures since I didn’t bring an underwater camera. The food was great, although much of it was fried. Had my own cabin, which was great, except it was right by the kitchen. At Midnight was awakened by a weird creaking, when I went to investigate, I heard scurrying of rats on top of and behind the wall of my cabin. None were in the room, thank goodness.
I’m in Bangkok for a few days, recuperating at the Lebua at State Tower (check it out on line). This place is more luxurious than anticipated, and it feels like the Ritz–the price I’m paying would easily be double in the US or Europe. I am going to enjoy a drink at the renowned Sky Bar and then a Mediterranean dinner at the World’s highest al fresco restaurant.
More reflections will follow. Hope all is well with you–Aimee

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