5 December 2001
Another tour today, this time a one-day jobbie to the Perfume Pagoda. That’s a collection of sacred caves, shrines and temples around a mountain about 40 miles outside Hanoi. Not sure I would agree with Lonely Planet’s description of it as “unmissable”, but then if I was a Buddhist and the caves etc meant something to me in spiritual terms, maybe I’d feel differently. The main cave was impressively massive, though, and the journey there was pretty cool.
We were taken in a minibus from Hanoi (that wasn’t the cool bit, obviously) to the Yen River, where we got in little boats to be rowed one-and-a-half-hours each way to the Pagoda and back. That was lovely. The river was clear and still, and jutting out of the water were all these limestone formations covered with lush greenery. At one stage we had a line of around a dozen or so white ducks gliding along beside us, and there were some awesome big, bright blue dragonflies flitting around, too.