Hanoi, VietnamAugust 7, 2015 in Vietnam
Dodging scooters and passing vendors, we walked around the 'old town' portion of Hanoi. Frank practiced his haggling skills and I attained a lovely mini backpack (North Face) for $7.
Our first adventure in Vietnam was to visit the Perfume Pagoda. Driving for two hours by taxi, outside of Hanoi, we then boarded a water taxi for an approximate 2 mile paddle to the pagoda.
The waterway was clogged with lotus flowers. Several workers were cutting back the flowers so that the boats could pass through the waterway. Luckily it wasn't high tourist season. We were told there were normally thousands of people headed to the pagoda (instead of the dozen we saw).
The pagoda is inside a cave, at the top of a mountain. There are hundreds, if not a thousand, steps to climb. For the faint of heart (or those unwilling to climb the 2+ miles of steep mountain/steps) there is a cable car running to the top.
The mountainside path is littered with vendor stalls and trash. Most stalls were closed, as it was the low tourist season. Selling t-shirts and other trinkets, the vendors aggressively tried to part your money from your pocket.
The path to the top was difficult due to the steepness and the slickness of the rocks. The humidity, only a little more than Houston--about 75-80%, only added to the difficulty of the climb. The vendor stalls blocked the views from the mountainside.
Upon reaching the top we were required to don brown covers (similar to a monk's habit, I think) as our shorts were improper dress for a religious site. Putting a dirty & stinky long sleeved 'dress' on while you're hot and sweaty isn't as awesome as you might imagine. Yuk.
We climbed 120 steps down into the cave where the pagoda was located. The fog made the scenery around us more mystical.
After returning up 120 steps and returning the robes, we rested and were introduced to Nuoc Mia (a refreshing drink made from freshly squeezed sugar cane and citrus).
The return trip to the boat was much easier as we were descending the mountain rather than climbing it. The boat ride was tough as it lacked the breeze needed to cool our skin from the heat and humidity.Read more