Friday 31 August 2012

Day 518: Hoa Lu and Tam Coq

Landscape around Hoa Lu

I went on this day trip on a whim, because the museums in Hanoi were going to be shut that day, and it turned out to be one of the nicest trips I've taken.  Not Hoa Lu, specifically, though what's left of this ancient capital of Vietnam was a pleasant diversion.  These days it consists of a couple of attractive temples surrounded by mountains and some open areas where the city was.  What really made the day, coming completely unexpectedly, was the boat ride along the waterways through the landscape of karst hills, and even sometimes under them.  We followed that up with a bike ride, albeit a short one, along a path that would through the rice fields and along the base of the same hills.

Entrance to the tunnel under a karst hill

Waterway through the karst hills
Things to note:
Hoa Lu is 2 hours out from Hanoi, not too bad for a day trip
Keen cyclists shouldn't get their hopes up about the advertised bike ride. It was pretty short.
I doubt the boat rowers get paid much money and it's accepted that they will supplement this with tips, attempts to sell you handicrafts and even what is virtually a scam at the far end of the river trip, where you're encouraged to buy drinks and snacks for your rower even if you don't want any yourself.  I strongly suspect the rowers sell these back to the snack saleswomen later on for a share of the profit.

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