10.26: The second half of our trip in Vietnam was as exciting and full as the first. We spent our second day in Hoi An zipping around the city on motorbikes that we rented and ended up at the beach. It was raining, but we sat under an umbrella and had soft drinks and were chatted up by all the local jewelery sellers. After lunch, we took a ride back up to Danang where we boarded a train to Hue. The ride went up along the incredibly beautiful coastline, hugging the cliffs as we went and passing little villages and incredible scenery along the way. We hopped a short flight back to Hanoi from Hue.
On Friday and Saturday we made day trips to the mountains in the northwest of the country by renting a driver for about US $75 a day for the entire day. On Friday we went to Cuc Phong National Park where we attempted to hike through the jungle before visiting the primate rescue center at the park’s entrance. We made it in to the jungle for about 20 minutes…we had to get out because Alexi and I were having slight panic attacks at the massive spiders crawling alongside us, the mosquitos eating us alive and the leeches we kept knocking off our shoes and socks. Of course, our local guide thought we were very silly to be so scared…she told us that all the animals and insects were “very friendly,” meaning non-poisonous. She then attempted to take us to an ancient cave…of course the minute she put her flashlight on the wall of the cave and we saw what was crawling on it…well, we had to get out of there too :) Finally, she suggested we drive to an ecotourism site to search for some wild troops of langur monkey …this turned out to be one of the most beautiful and special things we did on our trip…local women paddled us in bamboo boats through a swamp full of reeds, cranes, and herons to the edge of the jungle cliffs. We sat for a while with binoculars and finally managed to spot about 4-6 “white short” langurs sitting on the rocks and moving through the trees. Although they looked like tiny black and white specs, it was an incredible sight; maybe even a once in a lifetime chance, as we learned that there are only about 150 of these monkeys left in Asia and the world due to hunting and deforrestation.
So now after a lovely end to our travels in Vietnam, I am writing from Hong Kong…being in Hong Kong after Hanoi feels almost like being home in NYC! This city is amazing– clean, safe and more modern than most cities in the world. I enjoyed a home cooked meal of hairy shanghai crabs (only in season right now) which I helped pick out in the local market while they were still alive.