My parents are here! Part VII Ha Long Bay!

Actually at this point it should be my parents were here but I like uniformity in all my blog posts so I am not changing the name. My parents went back to The States December 20th. However, Iris and I flew out to Taiwan on the 21st so I have not had any time to post anymore about their amazing trip here. We are back home in KL again so the blog posts will be coming hopefully once a day or two for the next week or so until I catch everyone up on all the amazing things we did.

We were only in Hanoi for one day before we took a long bus ride to the coast for our cruise on Halong bay. When we were thinking of places to go in Asia with my parents a few places came to mind. Bali, Angkor Wat, China, and Vietnam. Iris had just gone to Bali with her parents and most reports I read say it is amazing but very touristy. NEXT. Angkor Wat is like number one on my list of places to see right now, but when my dad injured his back walking became difficult for him and Angkor Wat appears to be nothing but walking. NEXT. China. Well I love China and would love to visit it again and again and again. But I am not sure that my mother would love the food there too much. (Editor’s note since Sandy Heise will read this: She was an All Star when it came to food in Malaysia. My mom, for those who don’t know her, is NOT an adventurous eater at all. She tried everything in Malaysia. EVERYTHING. So food in China, in hindsight, probably would not have been as big of an issue) So that left us with Vietnam. Ha Long Bay appeared on a lot of “places you have to see in Asia” lists so that made it attractive. Plus, a cruise would give my injured father a chance to see something amazing from the deck of a boat. Done and done, Vietnam and Ha Long by it is!


And away we go! It was like a jailbreak, all the boats trying to get to the tour spots the quickest!

So I will put some pictures on here, but I am not sure if any of them will really do the place justice. It is huge and just seems to go on forever.


We are all just so darn cute!

John Heise wishing us well on our way to our first stop, Surprise Cave
One of the boats that would come up to our little boat to try and sell us things
A floating village. My mother’s only question: Where do they go to the bathroom? I am not saying it is a bad question, I am just saying it is a very Sandy Heise question…


The view from the top of the steps to get into Surprise Cave


So a little story before the next photo. Our good friend Wade Chi, who we went to see in Taiwan along with his wife Mo of course, has told us many stories about Asian tours. He says that as a kid he went on many tours where they would drive for a few hours to see something in nature that looks like something else from nature. Everyone would get out, take a photo, get back in the van and drive home. He hates these tours and so do I. More on things in nature looking like other things from nature later in this blog and in the Taiwan blog that is soon to come! But for now, let’s stay at Surprise Cave. We stopped so our tour guide could tell us about a rock formation (Stalagmite? Stalactite? I can’t remember which is which) that looks like a finger. She then asks us what else it looks like. All of us in the group, from different countries around the world, give each other what I am going to call “the look”. It was a look that said “we all know what it looks like, but none of us want to say it to this nice tour guide. Finally the guide told us that yes, we were right, it looks like…a gun. As you can see, it does look like a finger and a gun but it also really looks like…something else. All of us, after she told us it is a gun, looked at each other and said softly “no it’s a penis right?” It was one of these fun cross cultural moments that you can have traveling.


As you can see, 1000% a penis…

Moving on.

Enjoying drinks on the deck
After Surprise Cave, the boat just drove to our overnight anchor location


Most of the above views are not really in any time order. Some are from the first day, some are from the second.

On the morning of the second day, we set off for the only miss of this tour: Kayaking. We were given two options: go kayaking, or see a pearl farm. Iris and I chose the Kayaking, my mother chose the pearl farm, and my dad chose coffee on the deck. Turns out he picked the winner. So the kayaking had a hole in it, and started to sink after we got about 40 feet away from the deck. On top of that, I had hurt my back about 6 weeks earlier in a nasty fall when we were in the mountains. So my back could not handle the kayaking anyway, but the boat sinking kind of made it pointless anyway. On top of that, my pants got soaking wet. Which normally would not be an issue, but the next day in Hanoi was freezing. So cold we had to stop and buy jackets and I had to buy pants. The only ones I could find in my size were performance pants. They are really nice and they fit great, but all day I was walking around Hanoi in performance tights really, a tie dye shirt, and my toms sneakers. I got a few looks, even from the westerners! My mom says the pearl farm tour was great, but we missed about half of it because of the whole sinking kayak thing so it was a wash for me

Next up, more nature that looks like nature. So from the other side of these rock formations, it is suppose to look like two roosters fighting each other. I can not find the shots I took that showed all the boats lining up to get in the perfect position to see the roosters but from out vantage point it looked like another kind of animal. See if you can guess:


It’s a fish right? the head is on the left and the body is on the right. Anyway, this of course made me think again of Wade. Nature that looks like something else from nature: The classic Asian attraction!

The pearl farm
On the way to the pearl farm


That’s all for Ha Long bay. I’ll have more later about the rest of our time in Hanoi!
Jumpa lagi!



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