I found what notes I have on Vietnam. Here is all I have to offer, this is from a blog post I wrote in 2006.
Vitenam I’ll put some thought into capturing places in Hanoi like Hanoi’s cultural and beautiful Temple of Literature (perhaps my favorite site in my whole South East Asia experience). At the moment here is how we captured Hanoi in our 2006 blog:
Upon discovering that our reserved and unpaid for flight to Laos had mysteriously disappeared, we purchased tickets to Hanoi in Vietnam, one of the places on our wish list. A bit fatigued from sight seeing, we spent the first four days and nights exploring the Old Quarter, eating Spanish, Italian, French and Vietnamese food, shopping in stylish boutiques and remarking often on every aspect of the plethora of motorbikes (scooters) in the city. “Plethora” is an understatement – the number of scooters in Hanoi is insane. They rule the streets (and sidewalks) and stop lights and signs are rare so the only way to cross the street is to step right out in front of the stream and hope the vehicles part around you.
This maneuvering, combined with the city’s noise, pollution, and relentless hawkers (salesmen), nearly did us in, but we escaped to the gorgeous Halong Bay, a simple 5-hour minivan, ferry and boat transfer from Hanoi. There we relaxed during a 2-day trip, with with one other tour participant, on our own base camp. We stayed overnight in a thatched hut and the small staff expertly prepared delicious meals while our guide, Hieu, instructed us in how to use a kayak. Each day Hieu led us on a gentle paddle through the tranquil waters, stopping often to let us rest. This was definitely the best way to see a few of the 2,000 limestone islands jutting up spectacularly from the bay. When we weren’t kayaking or eating, we happily floated in the calm, warm waters, which inspired us to leave Hanoi for southern Thailand’s beaches.