My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Float down the MeKong


Opted for a day trip to float down the MeKong, it was sort of a flop of a trip but what did we expect for $16/pp.

First stop was to visit Vinh Trang Pagoda with 3 distinct Buddha’s. Happy Buddha who one would pray to for their future, Standing Buddha that one would pray to about the present and lastly Sleeping or Lying Buddha that you pray to for those that are no longer here with us.  IMG_3395.jpgIMG_3393.jpgIMG_3397.jpgIMG_3386.jpg

Though it is advertised as a cruise it is boat ride at best!   We got in a wooden open aired boat and went across the Tien River to the Qui (Tortoise island ). On the way we passed Dragon, Phoenix and Unicorn islands. Once off the boat we walked through a village, ate local fruit, listened to some local song, tasted local chocolate and honey and eventually made it to lunch.


After lunch we got a short small boat ride thru the mangroves, then we headed back to the bus and back to HCMC.   It was an okay day but a bit touristy for us. Not as good as our other day trips. But what did we expect for $16.IMG_3178_2.JPG

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Ha Long Bay Cruise

Dec. 14-16, 2019

We opted for the 2 night 3 day (though it is only 48 hours) cruise as there was more optional day trips with this, and we were not let down.IMG_3162

Again ride picked us up at 9:30 and we had about a 2 hour ride to the bay. By noon we were loaded on a small boat that took us out to our larger boat. The small boat was tied to the back of the larger boat the entire time and what was used to get us back and forth to our day trips.

Everyone on our boat (14 of us) had been upgraded from a 4 Star to a 5 Star cruise. Did any of us now what that meant, nope but we sure did like the small numbers. There were more staff than there were guests.IMG_3049IMG_3054

Our room was so nice, we were a bit taken aback. But we enjoyed it a lot. We laughed at the first meal however as the dining hall has room for 52 people to eat and again there were 14 of us, so the tables were set per group. Every long table with seating for 8 had 2 placemats and that was it. By day 2 we asked if we could move over with a mom/son from England that we had enjoyed chatting with, and of course it was no problem, but the segregation to start with was funny.

There are 1970 Islands in Ha Long Bay. On afternoon #1 we took small boat over to land where we were able to hike up about 100 steps and go into some caves.IMG_3072DSCN6760DSCN6778IMG_2991IMG_2901DSCN6958.JPG

Afterwards Happy Hour had 2:1 drinks (still high for Vietnam rates) and got demonstration on how to make fresh spring rolls, followed by dinner.

After breakfast on day 2 we went back on small boat to shore then rode bicycles for about 2 miles to a small rural village. The similarities to Rural Alaska were quite amazing. There is a lot of subsistence living and they do all they can to live off the land. The folks could (and some do) move to the bigger cities but the CHOSE to remain (or return) to the community where they were born and raised and where their families are located. There is a K-6 school in the community but after that if folks want schooling they need to go to the bigger community and live there to attend school, it is hard for them.

Families have small plots of land that they farm. We saw a demonstration on how to make rice wine and sampled a few different versions. Hibiscus, banana, honey, cobra (as in snake) but they all taste like pure raw alcohol.OFIT9021IMG_3097IMG_3117IMG_3119

After riding back to boat we then had a chance to go swimming…wasn’t too warm outside and the water wasn’t that warm but we went anyways. Once we were in it felt good. Kayaking was an option for the afternoon, but we opted to sit on our deck and read/enjoy the scenery. Food demonstration that night was fried egg rolls.IMG_3148

The last day morning was basically breakfast and packing before disembarking at noonish.   Our van then took us back to Hanoi but since we were flying out that evening we had them drop us at a mall (I know odd ) that was not too far from airport, but a place we could waste a few hours of time.

All in all the cruise was a nice time and we enjoyed the folks on the boat with us, especially Tina who was the staff member who took care of us.

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Ninh Binh, Vietnam a MUST visit area


We had decided to go on a one day tour to Ninh Binh today. We were picked up at 7:30 on the dot. It was a full 12 hour tour that included a general visit to the area, a boat float, a temple hike up a mountain and a bicycle ride followed by lunch.

Ninh Binh is a hidden gem in Vietnam just S of Hanoi (60 miles). We did not even read much about it in advance of our visit, but I would say DON’T miss this place.IMG_2982.jpgIMG_2989.jpgIMG_2756.jpg

It is full of 100’s of limestone monoliths. They rise out of the ground and surround you with such lush greenery.  There are NOT a lot of tourists in this area and I could see us staying here a few days if we had known.

We learned the difference between a temple and a pagoda! A temple is for kings and heroes. Gifts given as blessings can be almost anything including alcohol. A pagoda is for a spiritual being and gifts must be vegetarian and you must take your shoes off to enter. Bai Dinh and Bich Dong were beautiful and worth the visit.


On our river ‘float’ we were rowed by a woman who used her legs to paddle, it was quite a talent. We went into caves and along a stunning river at the base of the limestone structures. We saw a lot of birds on the ride including a variety of king fishers and herons. To be honest the river float could have been shorter. It was 1.5 hours and 1 hour would have been plenty.IMG_3024.jpgIMG_3025.jpg


Once we arrived back to Hanoi we had an evening walk around the lake and the Friday night market that was certainly geared to locals. It was fun to see the lake come alive and see what the locals do for fun!XFFF4494.JPG

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