Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Honeymoon Volume I

June 15

On to honeymoon adventures. So our first day we departed from New York's JFK airport at about 7 in the evening. We hopped on a 13 hour flight to Seol South Korea. I gave my coworkers a lengthy report about exactly what I did on that flight, but most of it involved watching movies and being told by the stewardess that I did not want the Korean meal I wanted beef with noodles, so we compromised and Scott got the Korean meal and I got beef with noodles. As I could have guessed on Korean Airlines the Korean meal was the more edible of the two, though it did come with a sheet of directions which told us that the thing was called BimBap. It was basically noodles with some ground beef and then a side soup thing that you poured in and a tube of chili paste for flavoring, not too bad as plane food goes. We arrived in Seoul and my sinuses were not so happy with all the pressure changes etc and since our imported pharmacy was checked through to Vietnam we braved the pharmacy in the Korean airport, a man with a lab coat handed us two boxes and told me to take one from each after I pointed to where it hurt and said sinuses very slowly multiple times. It's so fun to be the stupid tourist. The airport was very nice, they even had free internet in their traveler's lounge which was good since we had 3 hours to kill.

June 16

After another 4 hour flight we finally arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam! We looked around for the prearranged driver and didn't see him, so we walked over to a telephone to try and call to check on the driver since our flight had been slightly shifted, and some nice guys sitting near the phone offered to let us use their cell phones. They said something about how the pay phone wouldn't work. For some reason the call wouldn't go through on their cell so we gave them back their phone and wandered around checking the signs people were holding up. I forget why, but somehow we got directed to the 2nd floor where we found another identical pay phone, but those nice gentelmen had followed us and gave us their cell to try again. They even dialed for us this time. I think we finally got through and confirmed that the driver was at the airport, so we thanked the man and walked away. Of course he comes running back after us telling us that we owed him money! In our sleep deprived state we just looked at eachother in frustration at having been duped and threw the guy a dollar, which is equal to 160,000 Vietnamese Dong. We finally found our driver and made it to our hotel room. We couldn't see much along the way since it was dark, but we did learn an important rule of Vietnamese roads. The horn is used constantly, if you're passing someone in another lane you honk, if you're basically anywhere near another car you honk. It wasn't so bad, in NYC people honk out of anger and frustration and I feel like you can hear that in the horn. Here it was just common communication, and some of the horns had a very melodic honk.

June 17

The hotel room at the Hanoi Elegance was very nice., it had a computer and free internet and a nice balcony even. I spent some time the next morning standing on the balcony with my camera stalking the cone hat ladies. We had a nice complimentary breakfast and took a short walk around then came back to our hotel and hopped in a van that would take us to Halong Bay. The drive took four hours, but it was pretty nice. We got to see the countryside and small town Vietnam. Scott and I were impressed by the massive half finished concrete apartment buildings. When we asked about them someone told us that they started building a bunch of luxury apartments only to realize that no one had money to buy them. There was a lot of construction going on all around so I would say the economy was pretty booming. Most of what we saw were rice fields and the people working them with their water buffalo and conical hats. I loved seeing such stereotypical things as an everyday reality. It was neat to see that the culture wasn't just traditional costumes that people put on for tourists like it can be in many other places. One of the main features of the road were all the motorbikes. They were everywhere, and were used to carry everything. I even saw a family of 5 all on one bike. We stopped at a place where they make handicrafts such as embroidery and marble sculptures. I'm not sure I'd want to have to figure out how to get a marble sculpture back home but they were nice enough. The sign on the way out read "Serenity, Humanity, Beauty Company" aka tourist trap.

We finally made it to our boat on Halong Bay! It was a beautiful "Junk" with sails and nice wooden decor. We shared the boat with two other couples. One pair was from the UK and the other pair was from France. The scenery was quite stunning, though I feel like I was never really able to capture it on camera. There just weren't enough different colors to really get the depth and majesty of it all. Or maybe I just need to learn more about photography. To quote from Scott's journal that he kept along the way: "The bay is called 'spine of the dragon' apparently not, as I thought,because the limestone cliffs resemble dragon spines, but because in legend these cliffs were formed by a dragon's tail twisting and cutting into the rock until it dug a huge hole that water flowed into. I think the first explanation is better and more exciting, but there's no battling history in this case." Whew! I'm getting writers cramp. I think I'll have to save the detailed account of the rest of the honeymoon for another day's posting.

1 comment:

  1. korean scam artists and boat rides sounds like an adventure so far.


Recap Defined

ri•cap 1 (rē-kāp') Pronunciation Key tr.v. ri•capped, ri•cap•ping, ri•caps
1. a summary at the end that repeats the substance of a longer discussion
2. To replace a cap or caplike covering on: recapped the camera lens.
3. Ri - a female given name: derived from Adrienne.