After a two-day stop at Huế we boarded the plane again and this time flying to the nation’s capital Hà Nội. This was a first for me because I have never been north of Huế before. I guess for Brandon, Matt, and Sylvie, the entire trip was as an exciting experience with one new city after another. But as a native speaker and an expert of Việt Nam (well, compared to them anyway), I felt pressured to plan and take care of every detail of our excursion. When we got to Hà Nội I was both excited and apprehensive. The northerners have this bad rap of being unfriendly, but luckily we didn’t have any problem during our short stay besides the hard-to-understand accent. (The 3 regions of Southern, Central and Northern Việt Nam sport 3 distinctively different accents.)
Our next adventure was aboard a junk boat in Hạ Long bay! To get there from Hà Nội we had to take a very cramped 3 hour bus ride. The port was super crowded with tourists (Việt Nam has become a very popular destination for Australians) and tour guides trying to lead their group to the respective docked junk boats. We had booked a 2 day, 1 night tour package for all four of us and it included transfer to and from Hà Nội, all meals and private cabin for each couple.
Matt and Brandon have discovered a very popular game amongst young Vietnamese men called đá cầu, or shuttlecock. Many consider it a sport for there are nationwide, and even international competitions. What is fun is you can see a game in progress on the street and just ask to jump in. The locals were super thrilled to have Matt and Brandon participating.