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Tuesday, October 22: Day 183 – Kayaking

This morning we were at breakfast by 6:30am in order to go kayaking in Ha Long Bay.

The sun is out and the skies are blue. Smooth sailing…kayaking!

Law goes to a lot of trouble to make sure that we are having a wonderful experience. He feels that we flew a long way and spent money so he doesn’t want to let us down.

Law told our private boat to go the opposite direction from all the other tourists so we were often by ourselves at each amazing location.

Here are our friends David and Annick from Luxemburg waiting for the kayak. He is an air traffic controller, and she is a social worker.

We go by tender to be outfitted with kayaks. We paddled to a cave that had large openings on both sides.

Then we kayaked to another cave where one side had a deserted beach. We were able to swim for about a half hour. I went all the way out to the buoys and then touched the rocks on both sides. It was high tide and I wasn’t thinking and scraped the top of my foot on some rocks that normally would be visible. Fortunately, I have a first aid kit that I always take with me.

There are many local boats who were out cleaning up the trash in the oceans. It had been worse in the past.

Here is the captain of our ship. He is sitting on the bed where the crew sleeps.

By the way, King Kong was filmed on a river about 60 miles away from Ha Long Bay.

It was already a full morning so we hustled back to our boat in order to check out by noon. We are headed to the Hanoi airport where we will fly to Hué.

On the way to Huế we stop at a pearl farm. Pearls are made in limestone rich areas. There are different colors of pearls, and the type of pearl is determined by the color of the outside of the shell.

A piece of tissue from a donor oyster is treated with an antibiotic. Then it is inserted into the reproductive organ of the recipient. It is a type of artificial insemination!

They boast a 30% success rate. The success rate in nature is 1%. The oyster either dies or is uncomfortable and makes a pearl.

Every month the shells are checked and cleaned.

They produce a pearl in 8 months to 4 years depending on the desired size of the pearl.

The pearls are graded. Rejects are ground up and used in cosmetics.

Next we saw the creation room where they design jewelry. A small hole is drilled into the pearl.

We viewed all of the fine jewelry and escaped without making a purchase!!

We arrived at the airport. While waiting, I practiced my Grandma skills on this darling 8-month old girl. I loved making her laugh and saw her 4 new teeth.

I came across a first while in the Priority Pass Lounge in Hanoi. Here is a toilet with digital controls. Instead of using toilet paper, the user was given the option of blow drying! Hmmm.

Vietnamese is a tonal language that uses a lot of diacritical and tonal marks. Accents are used to denote six distinctive tones: “level” (ngang), “acute-angry” (sắc), “grave-lowering” (huyền), “smooth-rising” hỏi, “chesty-raised” (ngã), and “chesty-heavy” (nặng). In writing, one tone is represented as unmarked (a), four are indicated with diacritics marked on a vowel (á, à, ả, and ã), and one is marked with a dot under a vowel (ạ). All languages that use the Latin alphabet employ marks except one – English.

Arriving in Huế after sunset, we went out in search of a meal. We ended up at DMZ which stands for Demilitarized Zone and is now a restaurant and hostel.

There was a big military presence here during the Vietnam War. Almost all of the restaurants have war themes. It kind of seems like a M.A.S.H. atmosphere.