24.11.06 Chris was up early and on a mission to go get his bike back...no such luck he had to go back in the afternoon, when he did eventually get it back it cost him 100,000 Dong.....(about 3 quid).We all went for breakfast (which he had to shout again......as we still had no currency...how conveienient :)...Next stop currency exchange, 35,000 Dong to the pound......we were millionaires!!! We went for coffee in town in a high rise building over looking a lake and a busy (to say the least) road along side it. I thought the roads in Bangkok were bad...this was just stupid busy!!! Bikes were going in every direction you could imagine and the road markings quite clearly meant nothing oh and red traffic lights apparently mean go!!! Rules for crossing the road in Vietnam...just walk....keep walking and dont worry about looking left and right (its behind, front and every other way you want to be looking!!). The bikes will avouid YOU, its just having the balls to walk.....i found that finding a local and walking behind them is quite a good trick!!
Another rule of the road is that here the bikes use their horns as a warning and because there are sooo many bikes on the road they are all warning each other.....the sound in Hanoi is one contant horn!! People beep so much that they actually dont bother taking their fingers off the horn.
For dinner we had traditional food, noodles with chicked, rice, spring rolls etc (not unlike thai food) and after we went for Bia Hoi........this is basically fresh brewed local beer and was 2000 dong a glass (thats 7p!!!!!) Most Bia Hoi's are situated on street corners with kids plastic chairs so here we sat watching the world go by and drinking our body weight in 7p beer!!!!
We ended up going to a "club" called the lighthouse, not amazing but the first drink was free and there was a buffet (never ever turn down free stuff...especially food and drink!!) so we stayed for that at least. After half hour in there we headed to a place called Solice which was another club except this one was on the river. The music was good but by now we were all quite tired and needed to go home!! Easier said than done...we had to get taxi bikes (cars are not all that common in Vietnam)...while waiting for the taxi bike, Georgia drunkenly sat on a randonly parked bike (which was along side a million other bikes) when the taxi bike came she got up.....knocking the bike over and like a dominoes effect knocked about 6 others over in the process....whops!! Thank god most of the bikes in Vietnam look battered anyway so hopefully no one would have noticed. With the bikes picked up we promptly left.....ive never moved so fast!!!Once we got back to Chris's i realised that my Mp3 player had been stolen....bummer!! Guess thats me doing loads of boring journeys from now on!!!
25.11.06, didnt get up til well past 1 (in the afternoon :) went for breakfast/lunch and then went into town. Chris and georgia were working all day the next day so we managed to book a day trip to Halong Bay. Tonight we decided to have a chilled one and got a take away and watched the footie.
26.11.06 the bus picked us up from chris's house and we took the 3 hour journey to Halong Bay. Here we got on a boat which we were due to be on for pretty much the whole day. We stopped at a little fishermans village (basically in the middle of the sea?!) Here they had pen type things where they kept the fish they had caught and this stop was basically...Pick your lunch!! We had lunch on the boat and headed over to look at some natural caves that had formed over the past billion years (maybe a slight exageration!!). There were some beautiful views on the way to the caves (see pictures) so was really impressed on was worht the early morning rise!!!
Out of the caves and back on the boat i managed to get some post card type pictures of the sun setting over Halong Bay. We eventualyy arrived back in Hanoi at about 8pm we had chris's house keys so got changed and went straight out to meet chris and his mates in town. We grabbed ourselves a 10,000 Dong kebab (30p) and a few Bia Hoi's to wash it down with, We headed to a bar called Amazon. Much later Chris's mate (whos birthday it was) brought out a chocolate cake A) never turn down free food and B) who would turn down chocolate cake anyway!! In all the merryness the left over chocolate cake got used up in a chocolate cake fight...nice!!!
After a load of drinks and a load of mess we headed home as we had our flight back to Bangkok the next day.
27.11.06 we said our goodbyes and got a cab to Vietnam airport, we didnt have enough money to pay for the cab so Lich legged it into the airport to find an ATM only to return with 2 Million Dong (about 50 quid!!) she'd put in one too many 0's....dont worry lich, just change it back when we get to Bangkok.............We checked in our bags and went through to departures...where my hand luggage was scanned and as i'd been using my penknife loads i'd forgotten to pack it back into my main backpack therefore they had to take the penknife away....(another item gone!!). Back in Bangkok we found Jamie was still there and we were able to leave our bags in his room as we were getting the 7oclock bus from Bangkok to Phuket.
Eventually on the bus which was rather quite nice, reclining seats, tv and blankets!!..another bonus was that it wasnt that full and so we had 2 seats each and could stretch out!! Our main bags were in the hold below where we were sitting but all our important bits were with us (thank god!!) we had one stop about midnight for food and drinks before arriving in Suratthani at 5.30am. Here all our bags came off the bus as we were changing bus's for the rest of the journey to Phuket. Sitting down waiting for the connecting bus i looked down at my bag and realised it was padlocked in a completly different way to how i'd locked it!! Hmmm?!?!? Having a look through i noticed that everything had been re-arranged and quite obviously someone had been through our bags!! I was lucky enough not to have anything taken (dont think they were that interested in my un washed clothes!!) but they did think that the one pound coin i had in there was worth stealing!!! Lin and Lich were not so lucky and had both their Mag Lites stolen and Lich's (cheap, thank god) ipod speakers...chekky so and so's!!!. Looking on the brightside it could have been worse!!...Lin actually gained stuff...an unwashed sock...every cloud and all that :)
We eventually made it to Phuket and with no pre-arranged room we get dropped off in the middle of nowhere...typical!!! We decided to get a drink and consult the bible (lonely planet guide) we eventually figured out (doh) that phuket is made up of loads of different areas and we wernt in any of them!! We decided on Patong Beach as this seem to be the most popular area. We phoned a randonly selected hostel and surprisingly it had rooms available. Into a taxi and half hour down the road, we pay the taxi and head into what we thought was the hostel we phoned...it wasnt!!! where we wanted to be was a 2km walk down the road....great!!! Its baking hot and no fun walking anywhere with our packs on...oh well needs must!! No more than 2 mins down the road we spot a sign that says "Breakfast - English Sausage" and stop to imagine how nice that would be!! An English voice shouts over "looking for a room?"..."er yeah!!!!" We did find out that it was slightly out of our price range but asked if they could tell us of another place that was cheaper?.....The place just down the road...Square One......we said our thank yous and thought we'd give it a go.
We turned up at Square One which was english owned and the guy obviosuly felt sorry for us and offered us a room at a discount price of 400 bhat a night. we did slightly wince (6 pound a night is expensive here!!) until we realised it had a swimming pool and free internet access.....SOLD!!!! Starving we thought we'd go back to the "English Sausage" place for food by way of thank you. The guys in there were friendly enough and said they would take us into town and show us where's good to go. Here we discovered the "Bang the Nail" game, basically a tree stump, each player gets a nail banged in enough just to stand up, each player takes it in turn to bang the nail, the first player who gets their nail completly in wins!!!....Sound easy........well what if i told you they were not normal hammers but looked more like pick axe's!! Thats where the fun was at!!!!