We stayed a single night in Hanoi, enjoying the street party that seems to kick off on a Sunday evening, with groups of kids playing on closed roads around the lake, live music and general fun and frivolity. A late lunch of pizza meant we didn't need to eat until quite late, when we found a little gem of a restaurant, named Aubergine, we rolled our own spring rolls, I drank Hanoi beer, and we generally ate ourselves silly.
It was an early start the next morning, and a bus ride from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay, stopping half way for a toilet break, and the opportunity to buy a two tonne water feature or marble elephant (we declined) it was a total of three and a half hours on the bus, and it had less legroom than Ryanair.
It was totally worth it though - as we boarded a little boat, which took us to treasure junk, a lovely two deck, plus sun deck on top ship, with masts and cold drinks and comfy beds. We started off with a five course lunch (I avoided two of them for being too heavy on the squids and prawns) then we relaxed as we cruised into the depths of the bay.
We stopped off to go into a cave, and then again to visit a secret beach, before dinner was served, this time it was another 5 courses, but I only needed to miss one. We drank some wine, and called it our anniversary celebration (technically we were a day late).
The next morning we woke deathly early, did tai chi on the deck as the sun rose behind the magnificent islands, then had a light breakfast before heading out to a floating village. We were rowed from there to a pearl farm, however, Lisa didn't want a pearl necklace, so we headed back for brunch.
Our 24 hours on the boat were up, and I'd taken about 400 photos of amazing islands and cliffs and misty seas and it was lovely.
Another 3 and a half hours on the bus and we were back in Hanoi, where we ate even more amazing food and ambled around before an early night.
Next day we had brunch at a rooftop cafe, tried to visit the temple on the lake but my shorts were too short so we went back to change, then we visited the temple on the lake, before walking across town to the temple of literature, where schoolchildren were praying for good grades (with much hitting of drums and clanging of gongs)
I bought some excellent ties, and then it was back to the hotel for a final interview, and a job offer.
In the evening we jogged round the lake a few times, and then we ate at Aubergine again!
Then it was off to the airport in the morning...