I wasn't sure what to expect of an overnight bus, I'd heard good things from the boys on the boat, but I think they either went with a vastly superior company or were trying to make me feel better about the impending 15 hour journey. What we got on was definately not what I had in mind; imagine a normal sized bus, then picture it with bunk beds in it, one set next to each window and another in the aisle. Close. I'm convinced the dude in the upper bunk next to me was watching me sleep! Plus they were about a foot wide and fully reclined the whole time, which wasn't very comfortable when not sleeping, and bearing in mind we were on it from 6.30pm the first few hours weren't the best. As I was one of the last people on I also got a raw deal as ended up right behind the honk-tastic driver who chain-smoked the whole journey. 'Never mind', I thought, I can seek refuge in my book. They turned the lights out at 7.30, but left the shockingly bad Vietnamese-dubbed Japanese movie on until nearly midnight, and resumed play around 6am. Luckily my overwhelming tiredness owing to my late night tv binges and boat shenanigans meant I did manage to get a few bursts of sleep, albeit in some very awkward bag-hugging positions.
The bus inconveniently dropped us in the middle of nowhere, meaning we taxi-ed to the backpacker area (some bus-taxi cahoots going on me thinks!) Found a hotel with four beds so shared with two lovely girls from Halong Bay and a guy we'd met on the bus there. After well-needed showers we went for a wander, although there wasn't a great deal to see.
Got to the old city citadel and remembered it wasn't going to open for a few hours (long lunches here) so found ourselves somewhere to eat and kill some time. Walked past lots of yummy-looking street vendors in search of a place one of the others wanted to try out which was 'in the book' (Lonely Planet), which I wasn't at all impressed with, rubbish overpriced food, rude service, and still hungry afterwards.
The citadel was interesting enough but boyyyy was it hot out, so most of our walk around there was broken up by having to sit down and take breaks in the shade. From there we decided to check out one of the many tombs, and proceeded to spend 30mins in search of a taxi.... always everywhere without fail until you actually need one! When we did finally hail one it was a blessing just to be in an aircon vehicle.
The tomb we went to was massive, and no-one knows where the person was actually buried, but I was more amused at the 'no eaking branches' sign, which were convinced was an amusing mis-spelling of 'eating' but saw a sign later with the full wording - no breaking, makes more sense really! Mr taxi man waited for us to come out again and took us to the market. We were hoping to find some food goodies there but only managed to scout out fresh spring rolls, which were rather lovely but not all that filling. Back on our road we met up with a guy who runs the Backpacker's Hostel in Hanoi and is opening one in Hue, which is currently a building site although it was supposedly meant to open the day before we arrived, and had dinner altogether. We all had eyes bigger than our belly's and went for big set menus, I finished all of mine :)!
We were all very civilised and went back early and read our books in bed, no partying for us the day before an early morning bus journey...