Arrival Hanoi and Perfume Pagoda
Hanoi Travel Blog› entry 1 of 6 › view all entries
April 18th, 2010 – by: Vanessa_Mun_Yee
As a Malaysian, I do not need a visa to enter both Vietnam and Laos, however, Charlie as an American; he needs visa to visit these countries. I found out from the travel agent that they could arrange visa on arrival upon we arrived Hanoi Noi Bai airport but they would have to charge a little service fee ( exclude the stamping fee at airport). Because we would fly to Luang Prabang from Hanoi and then fly back to Hanoi before we leave for Houston, this mean that we need a multiple entries visa, therefore we would have to pay $50 ( single entry visa is $25 ) stamping fee to the immigration upon arrival.
Once the travel agent gained approval letter from immigration department, they e-mailed it to us. We then printed the letter out, with 2 passport size photos and $50 in cash readied for the trip!
It was a smooth journey arrived Hanoi Noi Bai airport and we started to look for “visa on arrival” counter. I have to thank our fellow travbuddy here whom gave me information about how and where we should do the visa on arrival. We proceed to the right hand side in the arrival hall where there is a both stating “Visa on arrival” we were in line for a few minutes before I noticed we were in the line of “ Payment and Collection” there were another sign on top stated “ Visa application 10m” with and arrow pointed behind the counter where we queued.
After a few minutes, a lady officer came out, handed the passport with visa on it and pointed it out to us - our arrival and departure date was the same day on the visa because there was an error in the approval letter. She assured us no problem and wanted us to tell the immigration officer at the check in counter to give us 15days from the day we arrived.
I was a little worry that the tour leader may have gone since we had not been out for so long (our tour leader did not wait for us during the last trip to Vietnam and we had to take our own transport to our hotel) Luckily he was there - Mr. Sang holding up a board with our names on it. He was very thoughtful to ask if we needed to use the toilet because it would take a while before we get to the city.
The journey took about an hour from airport to the city. I wasn’t feeling so good in the car, it might be the stress from the visa problem or it might be the “stop and go” traffic plus lots of honking! Man, the Vietnamese love to honk! That drove me crazy!
We arrived at a restaurant named - Koto restaurant which serve pretty good food, especially my mint tea, they used the fresh mint tea leave! That had calmed me down so much and I started to feel better after lunch. After lunch, we proceed to our hotel for check in. On the way to the hotel, we passed by a road that full of painting stores. I spotted an oil painting that I have been looking for so long! I didn’t tell the driver to stop, thinking that we would come back on our last day where there were no program arranged.
We checked in to Boss Hotel which is located in the old quarter, very close to Hoan Kien Lake. After checked in to the hotel, we went out again to visit Bat Trang Ceramic Village.
The whole village produced ceramic works for Vietnam market. Mr. Sang brought us to the largest factory where we learned how they make pottery using pottery kiln, paint and glaze by hand. We both like a vase very much but thinking of the size of it and there was no way we ca bring that home, therefore we had to give this up but bought a small aromatherapy oil burner. What made this special is, we knew this was made there, at the same factory and it represent Vietnam. This visit to village ended the day; the rest of the evening was free. We found a very nice restaurant around the corner by our hotel to have our dinner.
The next day’s program was to visit Perfume pagoda. Perfume Pagoda is not one temple but a couple of temples and shrines that built into limestone cliff of Huong Tich Mountains where it can only be reach by boat.It took 2 hours road trip until we get to the township of My Duc. Again - lots of honking along the road plus some bumpy road that gave me a headache! Finally, we arrived at the harbor. It was a scenic row boat trip through the limestone cliff on Yen River. The row boat does not have a roof, therefore we were “cooked” under the sun for about 1.5 hour then we arrived at the base of the mountain. Along the way to the entrance, there were a lot of tiny restaurants by the harbor. I knew the Vietnamese eat dogs but it was still a shock to me when I saw they hang the killed dogs, with skin off by the front of the restaurant.
I felt better after lunch and we started “hiking”. I use “hiking” because I felt like a long long walk. We needed to walk up the hill for about 20 minutes just to get to the cable car station.
After lots of walking, we first arrived Grotto Huong Tich, a beautiful cave where the local often come to pray. According to the guide, this cave will be packed with locals during Vietnamese New Year.
Then we walked downhill and I noticed there are a lot of huts with thin mattresses and fans along the walkway. These were for rent. For the local who decided to spend a night at that area after or before they pray… I can’t imagine sleeping in an open area like that with man and woman…Although walking down hill was easier but believe me, I was exhausted! (Maybe I am too weak) I thought that was it when we arrived at the open area where we had our lunch.
We walked up hill a little more to Tien Tru Pagoda as the holiest scene of Buddha land in the country. There were a lot of spots for photos!
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