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Our last night in Hanoi was quiet as our plans to walk to a small café somewhere were literally rained out.  It poured.  There was thunder and lightning.  And then it did it again and again.  Hence, the Sofitel Metropole bar was our destination.  A nice time, but also a bit of a minor disappointment.  It happens. 

It is the first time in a very long time I had to do the “pack up and put your bags outside your door by 6:30 a.m.” thing.  I am not loving the sort of living out of a suitcase aspect of this portion of the trip, but it is a minor inconvenience; especially since this trip is so informal.   (Note:  You are asked to take only an overnight bag to the junk on Halong Bay.  We were fine, but a number of guests were not aware of this and were not prepared with an overnight bag of any sort.  A note would be a simple fix to what, as you will see, is actually a very convenient and logical system.)

After another wonderful breakfast it was time to get on a bus for a relatively short-in-distance drive to Halong Bay.  As quickly…or not so quickly…became clear, Vietnam is a place where travel between two points (airport to city or Hanoi to Halong Bay) is measured in time.  This is because of single lane “highways” of varying quality and a maximum 40 kilometer per hour speed limit.  So our trip took, including a mandatory stop at a clearly government -sponsored souvenir shop, almost 4.5 hours.  It was about an hour longer than advertised because we wound up behind two very slow moving vehicles for quite a distance.

Along the way we saw a Buddist monk who is traveling throughout Vietnam seemingly touching his nose to the ground every few steps.  Crowds gather honoring him as he reaches their small towns.