KC and I were joined in early January by our friend, Marie, a middle school science teacher from Oregon who is also globe-trotting and has been terrorizing tweens with the scientific method in a prestigious Seoul international school for the past 3 years.
Sa Pa Gallery
We headed north to trek for 3 days in the mountains along the Vietnam-China border with Zao, a lovely local guide from the Hmong tribe. (We can recommend the very professional Sapa Sisters as a truly grass-roots guide service where your fee goes directly to the guide, no intermediaries.)
If you notice the improvement in quality of the photos, all of these photos are courtesy of Marie. By this time, I had dropped our new camera one too many times so we happily relied on Marie’s skills.
Cat Ba Island (Ha Long Bay) Gallery
After trekking through the beautiful mountains of northern Vietnam, we took a sleeper train back to Hanoi followed by another 6 am train to the coastal town of Hai Phong. From there we caught a 45-minute ferry to Cat Ba Island, where Marie had arranged a beachfront hotel for $12/night. We read a review about a local place with the “best squid you’ll ever eat” and were so blown away that we went back the following night. During the intervening day, to pass the time until we could eat more squid, we looked up a locally-owned guide service to take us out into the famed Ha Long Bay. Being green at heart, we had pangs of guilt between our bouts of giddiness when we had an entire wooden yacht, capacity 65, to ourselves and got to set our own itinerary for the entire day. As you can see, the bay is spectacular.