Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday June 30 - Going North

We drove north to Ninh Binh Province in North Vietnam. I think the trip was an hour or two

First thing we did was stop at the Trang An Grottoes. You get in a boat, and your rower starts rowing. You CAN row if you like, but you don't have to. The rower did the majority of the work. Apparently there are a LOT of rowers. A rower might work once every 5 days and have other jobs ... this is just the occasional gig. So, this was our first view as we rowed out. The mountains are called karsts.

The landscape was really beautiful and we mostly we enjoyed watching the scenery.

We were headed to caves. This was one ... you can zoom into the middle of this photo and see the caves ... low to the waterline!
You had to watch your head inside the cave. They were dark, low, and very very still.

Eventually we came to ... a place were we got out and walked up 800 steps up and over a karst, and to a temple area. Here we are on the steps.

And K at the temple.

And some behind the temple pictures.

After that we were hot and headed to the hotel. We stayed at the Tam Coc Horizon Bungalow in Hoa Lu, which I would recommend for everybody! Wonderful people, amazing food.

Lunch, or at least some of it. SO. DELICIOUS.


Then we had a rest, and then a bike ride to a temple. Dirt roads, ducks, motorbikes. This is the view along the route we took.

The temple was built into the mountain, basically. Here is the entrance.

The first level of the temple, the Celeste temple, where they said was the origin of Buddism. This temple was thought to be the origin of Buddhism. Celeste, a member(?) became a Buddah and returned to earn to relieve the pain of others. 

Second level, in the mountain. See the waterfall? You walk in and behind and around through the cave.

And then out and up again.
The view. The sun was starting to get lower.

And then up some more. We walked up and up and up. Where the people are at the bottom is where I took the above photo.

This was the last level. You could climb up from here but 1) there was a sign saying not to and 2) we were wearing flipflops. Not sure it wasn't possible, but we decided to stay at the lower temple and not trek up the rocks to that higher peak above A.
The roof of the temple.

And dinner. DINNER. My favorite bit:

And the next morning, this was the view of the karst from our room.

Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29 Friday - Hanoi

We ARRIVED!!! We lost a day and suddenly it was Friday morning, the 29th. Whoot! A picked us up (yay!) and took us to breakfast. Pho!

We arrived at her house, and went downstairs to the mall and walked through the art installation that was down there, as well. This is what it looked like.

Before lunch M & K had a nap, and then we woke them when they'd asked. And then they fell back asleep, and we woke them up again for lunch for real this time. SO worth getting up for lunch, the food was so so so so so so good. Yum. There are going to be a lot of food pictures. This is the first of many. This is M to the left, A's grandmother at the head of the table, her grandfather behind on the sofa, A, and last her mom.

And ... part of lunch!

After lunch we drove to downtown Hanoi. My first experience of the traffice was shocking, it was unfathomable. There seemed to be no rules. You could pass whenever, wherever, and as many deep as you wanted. But the traffic moved slow enough so it always worked out.

We went to a mid-town lake and a red bridge that I guess A had given M a picture of, or painted a picture of at some point in the past. I couldn't get anybody else to pose, so selfie.

And once on the bridge K decided she COULD pose after all. She looks tired.

And all of us!!

We walked around some, went to the Bach Ma Temple. (the white horse temple)

And we went to the "Traditional House" which was a series of rooms with courtyards or open rooms in the middle.

 Sneaky picture of K & A before K knew she was being photographed by me.

 This was another temple, I think.

We kept walking, came to a ... church in the middle of Hanoi. It was some church, not sure what or why.
 And then dinner. Bahn My.

We took a Grab (the not Uber service in Hanoi) home. M & K fell asleep, but both of them said they didn't (they did). We went up on the roof of the apartment building and looked out, took some panorama photos, and then to bed around 11 pm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 27 Travel

Traveling to Vietnam. I met M & K at JFK. That airport is BIG. And when people tell you to get the AirTram you can't always hear what they say and you have NO IDEA where you are going. But you get there anyway.

Met M & K at Terminal 8 for Qatar Airways. I had about 30 minutes to wait, but all was good. M&K showed up, and we got in line. When they finally opened the line to check in it turned out your carry on bag wasn't supposed to be over 7 kg.  - about 15 pound! K was under, M was over a smidge and I was over a lot. I stuffed a bunch of junk in a second bag I had, and decided to carry both on. They said that was OK. By the time I got to the gate I just repacked my original bag and didn't give it another thought until 2 weeks later when we had to travel back.

This is us waiting in line. AND my hand because I haven't mastered the selfie.

And then we got to Quatar. Walking through the terminal we passed a giant teddy bear an odd headlamp. Loved that thing.

We were tired. It was the middle of the night. They don't open the gate until right before it is to boarded we (and everybody else) had to sit on the floor.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Just before I went on Vacation ...

Just before I went on vacation without the rest of the family, I made the family go downtown. And we went to a place I'd taken a photo of C& Q when they were little, and I tried to recreate the photo. It wasn't entirely successful, but it did result in some nice pictures.