Thursday March 7, 2019

Yesterday morning, once we were properly up/dressed/fed/watered, we said “Tam biet!” (goodbye) to Hanoi and drove for four hours through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta … past scenes of rice fields, rural towns and everyday Vietnamese village life … arriving in the bayside resort town of Bai Chay: gateway to beautiful Halong Bay. There, we boarded a look-alike Chinese junk and motored away for an overnight Bhaya Classic Cruise through this astonishing coastal seascape, dotted with thousands of pointy, lumpy islands (mostly uninhabited) and recognised as one of the New World’s Seven Natural Wonders.

We made ourselves at home in our comfy cabins … partook of a fresh-cooked lunch … snapped endless pix of passing islets and other junks-cum-cruise-boats, large and small, that were plying these astonishing waterways … grabbed a relaxing massage in an open-air ‘spa’ on the back deck (well, I can’t speak for the others, but I sure grabbed one!) … and enjoyed a hilarious demo of traditional Hanoi cooking.

Then, after ‘Happy Hour’, a sumptuous seafood dinner and a bit of amateur (unsuccessful) squid-fishing, we retired to our beds for the night.

Aaaah yes – magic!

This morning, bright and early, we wakey-wakeyed to some brisk tai-chi that was happening on the top deck – then up-anchored and continued cruising – going ashore on Sung Sot Island to explore some colourful limestone caves, before downing a fresh’n’healthy buffet brunch and sailing back to Halong City.

Our return-coach-trip to Hanoi was broken with two stops: the first at a pearl farm/factory/showroom where we saw how they (the oysters) do it … the second at a huge art’n’crafts workshop where many of the young people exhibiting their skills (at silk-weaving, for example) were victims of the war: landmines, Agent Orange, and worse.

It’s these kind of experiences that we’ve come here for. And, so far, Vietnam has not disappointed us …

COMING UP: We fly south on the morrow to Danang and get taxied to the charming old riverside town of Hoi An. So don’t hang up just yet … 

PEOPLE-NEWS: Our internationally-renowned Quacky Yellow Ducks are once again being awarded to Kiwis in our group who do silly, embarrassing, award-worthy things …

  • CATHERINE & GRANT shared our ‘Very Early Earlybird Award’ – for getting their wires crossed before they’d even left NZ, and almost, very nearly, going out to the airport, bags and passports in hand, the day before we were due to depart.
  • HEATHER earned herself our ‘Breaking & Entering Award’ – by standing in the hotel corridor on our first night in Hanoi, trying desperately to open the door with her plastic key-card (wait for it …) of the room next door to hers!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.) fffffff

This entry was posted in 2019 Mekong by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Loving the updates and the photos. I am not surprised that you are all looking forward to your beds – your days are jam packed! Big squishy hugs and heaps of love to Rob & Kathleen from Linzi xxx

  2. Coons … Robby you look so fit doing the Tai-Chi so early in the morning – did you partake John??
    WOW to the pics .. amazzzzzzzing. Love n Hugz from us The Kerks xx

  3. Looks a fantastic destination going to give the egg in coffee thing a go !maybe🙄 great pictures , take it easy on the bionics mum ( Pam). Bevan

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