Hectic Hanoi, Vietnam! 8th May - 15th May
I'm just going to warn you all now that Dai doesn't want to write the blog anymore so it's just me. I apologise now in advance as I can't just summarise things...I have to go into detail so this blog may turn into an essay...sorry guys!
After a surprisingly enjoyable flight with Laos Airlines we arrived in Hectic Hanoi. Laos Airlines really impressed us not only with the comfort of the plane (we had less leg room with BA on long haul) but with the service also. It was only an hour flight but they fed us and gave us a free beer Laos...happy days we are so easy to please! We had arranged an airport transfer to the hostel where we were staying as we had heard some shocking horror stories about taxi drivers ripping you off and taking you to a different accommodation and then charging you a fortune!
We had heard from other travelers Hanoi was crazy but we both had totally underestimated the madness of this city! Bangkok is tame compared to Hanoi. The taxi drive to the hostel was well shall we say interesting. We had a few near misses on the way and I am not the best passenger at the best of times but I will say I have chilled out somewhat since being in Asia although I still s*** myself with transport situations. The roads in Hanoi are barmy and packed full of motorcycles, cars and taxis. They love to beep their horns on a regular basis. There seems to be no rules at all on the roads and the roundabouts are terrifying so the only form of communication between road users is to beep your horn and a beep it with attitude!! I guess you now get the picture of the City?
As Hanoi is so big we had been advised to stay in a hostel otherwise the chances of meeting other backpackers would be minimal. So far on our trip we have been staying in guesthouses as cheaper with the 2 of us instead of dorms. Yes we were hostel and dorm virgins but not anymore. We stayed in a dorm of 12 people but we had a double bunk bed...we were on top. The Hanoi Backpackers hostel is definitely one we recommend...great food and drink offers and activities although they don't turn the AC on until 7pm and turn it off around 9am! You sweat a lot in this hostel but I suppose it means you drink more...win win! There is so much going on here and we've met so many people. The day we arrived and got out the taxi the first person we saw was Dan who we travelled with in Luang Prabang. We literally checked in and went straight out with him and Mick and a few others. We went to an amazing Vietnamese restaurant and at that point I fell in love with Vietnamese food oh so tasty, fresh and full of flavour. They introduced us to "beer corner" where the beers are 12p...can't really go wrong at that price. You sit on tiny stalls on the side of the road...I'm sure there are some Health and safety issues here but oh well. We drank them dry and then went on to another bar where we all had a good boogy. What a great first night in Hanoi.
Next day, yep as per usual when we've been drinking we did absolutely w*** all except walk around the lake and get a feel for the city. We booked the Halong bay tour with the Hostel as all the guys we were out with the night before said it is a must but be prepared to drink a lot! Right up our street great! :) We met Carol who is Irish that night doing the pub quiz. Naturally with the Irish link we got on really well and had many laughs with the other guys (some Irish) in our pub quiz team.
Many of them were going to Halong bay the next day so it was reassuring to know a few people before we left. Just for the record we didn't win the quiz! We did the Halong bay tour for the next 3 days (thurs10th - sat 12th) I will write this blog separately.
12th May we arrived back from the tour battered and bruised and generally f***ed to put it politely. We had met some brilliant people who we continued to hang out with over the next few days. Many museums and sight-seeing places are closed on a Sunday so we had little choice of what to do. There is however an awesome waterpark to visit. 7 of us went there and it was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It cost a fiver and the slides were awesome...some very deceptive I did scream like a girl a few times and so did Dai!! Fab afternoon and we really enjoyed getting to know others a little more. It was Fletch and Ashleigh's last night so it would be rude not to go out and visit beer corner and have a few "send off" drinks! 4am I think I went to bed pretty good going.
Dai and I were getting slightly concerned that we hadn't really done any sight-seeing in Hanoi (old age thing) so we mapped out a few places we should see. The prison was one of them. Great to see but very one sided. Belle and Glen a couple from Singapore took us for lunch the following day at this little street café and the food was so tasty. We had sticky maize rise and pork...surprisingly full of flavour and incredibly filling. Carol came with us to see the army museum it was pretty big and vague but it was worth a visit. The highlight of this was the motorbike taxi to the museum. I sat behind the driver and Dai behind me. Now I was scared but it was crazy fun. Emergency stops are a must in Hanoi! I was a little concerned how my breasts were pushing against the Vietnamese drivers back...I think he was enjoying it a little too much! He was smiling quite a lot when we got off. The taxi home on the other hand was a little different. We were fully aware of the scams. This guy said meter, we said no meter 50,000vnd for the 3 of us anyway to cut s long story short we agreed on 70,000 (just over 2quid). When we got to the hostel he tried to charge us 300,000 and thought we said 7$ luckily I had opened the back door as he started getting aggressive and we all jumped out... phew. Fair play they try anything to rip you off (well some do).
That evening Dai, Carol and I left for Sapa.