I couldn't resist adding one more photo of Halong Bay. It's not hard to see from this sunset photo just how magical this place is at each time of day, from morning to night. I love being on the water, and sleeping on a boat is even better. It must come from the years we had a sailboat when I was growing up. I always felt very cozy on that boat at night, and at Halong bay we were surrounded by a little flotilla of boats, all lit from within. I would have to say that this is one of the best places I have been , and it ranked right up there with seeing the Taj Mahal. Halong Bay is in the running for one of the new Seven Wonders of The World, and I do think it belongs there, but of course that means more tourism coming to Vietnam.
Hoi An was our most recent stop along the "gringo trail" as we like to call it. You do tend to see the same travelers over and over on these kinds of trips. Sometimes that is nice, like when we ran into our friends from the train to Hue, Kent and Jude when we flew out of Hoi An together. These two ladies were selling little bird whistles made out of clay, which they would happily demonstrate for you if you showed the least bit of interest, or even if you merely walked by.
I love walking through the markets, as the food always looks so colorful, and that is where I tend to find my best photos of women doing their daily jobs. Their faces have so much character, but I have a hard time looking them right in the eye to take their photo. It seems too invasive. I guess I wouldn't make a good professional photographer!
Hoi An is a very charming town full of ancient buildings and it is a world heritage site because of this. We arrived at night and I was so charmed by the many many lanterns hanging all through town. I really wanted to scoop them all up to bring home, but we are trying to travel light and it is just not practical. Even so, the merchants continued to tell me how they could be collapsed to fit in a suitcase or mailing tube...I believe that there is such a tradition of lanterns here as there was a big Chinese and Japanese population and many of the ancient houses also have beautiful old lanterns inside. I just could not stop taking photos of the lanterns, so you will see more of them. They came in all shapes and sizes and one could even get them custom made.
Well, you already saw these, which now seem to be a pale imitation of the real thing.