Halong Bay and exotic street food - Hanoi, Vietnam Part 2

A four hour bus ride from Hanoi brought us to the legendary Halong Bay.

Although the day was overcast, it did little to detract from the amazing sights here.  We first boarded a boat in the harbor and were fed a great lunch as we took the half hour ride into the bay.  As we began to navigate the massive limestone cliffs, we came upon a small fishing village.  The locals here spend their early childhoods on the water, eventually leaving to go to school when they are around the age of 5.  Most only finish grade school, then return to help their families and the local fishing community.

After we docked at the fishing village we took a small boat and a guide rowed us out into the bay to check out some of the caves.

Our guide called this "lady in waiting".  I called it something else.

After that we got back on the boat and set off for another part of the bay.  After about 30 minutes, we pulled into a dock tucked inside a small cove.  We unloaded and were taken up a long, steep staircase into a massive cave, which only opened to the public in 1998.

We explored the caves for an hour, then went back to the boat to go back to the mainland.  On the boat we met Annie and Minjin, who spoke excellent English.  Annie was from Hanoi, but had been studying for years in America, and recently China.  Minjin was from South Korea, and had also been studying abroad with Annie.  They invited us to dinner with them, so when we went back to Hanoi we met up with them in the old quarter.  We followed Annie through several winding, crowded streets that all looked the same, until we finally stopped at a street vendor with plastic kids chairs for us to sit in.

Luckily we had Annie there to order for us, and we were soon brought a giant plate of chicken feet.  Yes, that's right, feet.

The feet are actually pretty good, although there's not a lot of meat on them.  We also had some great chicken wings as well, and for all four of us to eat it was only about $7 USD.

Minjin, Annie, Johanna
We've had a great time in Hanoi, but tomorrow we are taking an 18 hour bus ride to Vientiane in Laos.  We'll try to update again soon.