crunched for time, we flew into hanoi and spent a few days exploring the north of vietnam. many people take advantage of the 'open bus' and travel the whole country more leisurely. if we'd had the time, it sounded like a great way to explore many towns and experience the regional differences of north and south. maybe next time!
hanoi itself is wild! swarming with motorbikes and very FAST - more so than any other city we visited. here's some sidewalk parking:
we explored as much of hanoi as the 114F heat index would allow. specifically, we visited the prison museum at the 'hanoi hilton' and the temple of literature, a millenium-old center of learning.
outside of hanoi, we visited two tourist hot spots of northern vietnam: halong bay (a would-be natural wonder of the world) and sapa (a region on the chinese border known for its terraced rice paddies).
halong bay is gorgeous. there are thousands of islands throughout the bay, and what feels like millions of boats carting tourists around. i enjoyed the highly international flavor of our boat - the 18 of us represented the nations of the US, new zealand, switzerland, france, germany, russia, south korea, the netherlands, denmark, england, and spain.
after halong we took a night train up to sapa. no way to describe it except to say that it was absolutely stunning and post some shots.
yowzas, the length of these posts is exploding!
thankfully, only one country is left to report - cambodia.