Thursday, April 12, 2012

Be One With The Seven Wonders



The difference between friends and family? You can pick and choose among your friends.





Good Morning, Vietnam!
(Part Two of Three)

[Click Here for Part One]

When one is to live with little (or no) expectations, the outcome towards life is generally more rewarding.  It can completely change the way we experience life.  It brings about the knowledge of wisdom, thus enriching the soul.  It, unconsciously, endeavours with a more empowering mindset.  It opens doors to living a life avoiding to deal with our selfish nature and focuses beyond what we think we deserve to have.

 We should already know that life without expectations, on any level, will make us feel good.  It liberates us and we are free to go with the flow of the Universe.  Importantly, we shall not be affected by the encountered outcomes.  When we give with the expectation of receiving something in return, we are not really letting go of what we are giving.  If we do not let go completely, then we are still clinging to whatever we gave.

My recent trip to Hanoi was planned to give my soul a chance to actually open to a completely different experience.  It was a trip to flow with opportunities and to open my horizons.  It was a trip to bask in a country that I did not have much deep knowledge nor information.  I had no expectation of what to experience nor doing on a planned event or a series of itinerary to go through.

In fact, there was no ground works done prior the trip.  I did not even know (OK, here is where my geography sucks) that the capital of Vietnam was Hanoi, the city that I planned to have my holidays.  The whole Hanoi trip was arranged by the Hotel.  What I did was to give them my dates.

Perhaps, when I gave my soul freely without expectation, life enrichment came with  some very unpredictable ways.  The first good feeling I experienced, after passing through the airport, was the good weather.  I did not expect the weather to be something that I would enjoy, in contrast to the hot weather back in Singapore.  I did not expect it to be cold with low humidity.

Such was with the unexpected; when we erased off any expectations of existence that we wind up attracting the exact opposite of limiting beliefs.  Giving just attracted more giving that led to elevate personal awareness and stimulated increasing levels of compassion and gratitude.

The recent Hanoi trip taught me about levelling with expectations.  I did not want to take up the trekking tour to Sapa as I expected it to be way off my adventurous lifestyle.  The Hotel informed me that I would do lots of walking should I join the Sapa tour.  It resulted with a lost opportunity of the most talked about thing to do while in Hanoi. 

All the tourists, and even the locals, that I met in Hanoi highly recommended visiting Sapa.  When I decided (at the last minute) to arrange for the Sapa trip, my booking did not go through.  I could not get any accommodation.

The Hanoi Adventure


My Travel Itinerary

Ha Long Bay


The magnificent Ha Long Bay!

I did not know that Ha Long Bay, before my trip, had just been officially named one of the new seven Wonders of Nature on 27 April 2012.  My Vietnamese tour guide mentioned it on our way from Hanoi to Ha Long province.  Indeed, the spectacular seascape of Ha Long Bay was such a great treasure of the world.

[Ha Long Bay is about 170 kilometres northeast of Hanoi and it is about four hours by road.  The folk tale has it that the dragons descended from heaven to help the local Vietnamese by spitting jewels and jade to the sea, forming a natural fortress against invaders.  These precious stones are represented by the lush green outcrops.  There are about 1, 969 islands with beautiful caves and stone formations.]

Our hotel arranged the 3 days 2 nights Glory Cruise along Ha Long Bay.  We were picked up from our hotel at around eight in the morning in a mini van.  We arrived Tuan Chau wharf just past noon.  The reception area was rather spacious and organized.  We were then transferred to a small boat at the pier to head to the Mother junk boat, Glory Cruise.

A modern Tuan Chau Wharf where many small boats are waiting to bring passengers off the pier to the open bay for the junk boats.
Our boat.  Altogether, there were about 20 of us sailed out for about 10 minutes to the open bay to board the mother boat, Glory Cruise.
The mother boat, Glory Cruise
The big sun deck area.  The Tai-chi session was held here.

Glory Cruise is a modern and tastefully designed junk boat with spacious, well-appointed cabins and large sundecks.  The programs were well organized.  On the first day, we visited the splendid Sung Sot Cave, one of the biggest and the most beautiful cave in Ha Long Bay.  Back on board, we were treated to a cooking class with Vietnamese spring roll. 

The jetty at Sung Sot Cave
The panoramic view inside the cave.  It was nicely lighted up.  There were three sections, starting from the small to medium and large caves. 

During the free time, some took a dive into the Bay

The food and service on board Glory Cruise were good.  There were different menus for lunch, dinner and brunch.  The Captain remembered all the passengers' needs.  There was a vegetarian couple who were served specifically only vegetarian throughout their meals.  When we were having the cooking Vietnamese spring roll class, the Captain made sure there was a separate section.  The Captain also replaced a pork dish to calamari for a passenger that did not take pork.

(Clockwise) Deep Fried Fish, Vegetable Salad, Stir Fried Chicken with Vegetables, Clam with Lemongrass, Stir Fried Mixed Vegetable and Ha Long Seafood Soup.  There was also rice, seasonal fresh fruits and tea/coffee.

We were lucky to have our room on the second deck of the junk boat.  We were told that it would be quieter at night as the rooms as they were away from the engine room.

A nice and comfortable room.
I was very impressed with the Rain Shower and all its side water jets! Geez, it was out of the ordinary to have in junk boat!


The second day, we were treated to an early morning Taichi class.  After which, we visited the fishing village, either on bamboo boat or self kayaking.  This village let us to discover the traditional culture and customs of the fishermen.

A Simple Community.  There was also a primary school for the young children.
Some of us on kayak exploring the Fishing Village and the surrounding areas.

A buffet brunch was served, on return from the morning Fishing Village tour on board, while we cruised back through Ha Long Bay to the pier.

Back to pier.  Somehow, it reminded me of Sentosa Cove back in Singapore.

Hoa Lu / Tam Coc One Day Tour

We were picked up from our hotel at eight in the morning for a two-hours drive to Ninh Binh province for the Hoa Lu and Tam Coc day tour.

Hoa Lu is the ancient capital of Vietnam, which dates back to the 11th century. It is just a simple remains site dedicated to the late King Dinh and King Le, the two heroes who lived and chose Hoa Lu to build the citadel of the capital city.. It is about 110 km to the south of Hanoi.

The entrance.  Inside, there were two temples dedicated to the two Kings of ancient Vietnam.


The day trip included a lunch which was served after the temple visits.  A buffet lunch was served here.

(I guess) The only restaurant that served lunch to all tourists coming to this place.
The only dishes I picked.  There were lots more local dishes, soup and fruits on the big buffet spread.

After the lunch, we had a tour of Tam Coc.  Tam Coc (literally means three caves) is also known by the Vietnamese to be Ha Long Bay On Land. Here, we were treated to a two-hours boat ride to see the limestone mountains and going through three caves which run along the river way.



The Many Faces of the Boat Rowers:










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