We know your probably sick of hearing about bus journeys by now but the 24 hour ride from vientiane to hanoi in vietnam really must get a mention.
Without any exadgeration we nearly died, (on several occasions). A quick breakdown of the highlights were: 3 different drivers all smoking a foot long bong (god knows what was in it), one crash, (involving our coach and a wagon), one roadside fatality, (we think another bus had hit someone coming the other way), one speeding ticket (this did not slow us down), at least 20 near misses, numerous attemts at overtaking on blind bends (bear in mind this is on a coach filled with 50+ people onboard) and at least 3 full hours of james swearing with his head in his hands. It really was like something out of a video game, I think they had been watching speed 1 the night before and thought the bomb might go off if they slowed down.
Thankfully we got to Hanoi in one piece, now we will tell you a little bit about the lovely Hanoi,
First the vietnamese people. When it comes to food the Vietnamese see food as either nutricious or not, either tastey or not, in other words the little b******s will eat just about anything including the family dog, apparently the meat keeps them warm in the winter, although the temp here never drops below 70 the whole year. Secondly all they seem to do is spit, and this is not just a sly release of some extra saliva, it is a full on wrenched up phlem gollie, noise and all that is done by both men and women of all ages. Thirdly the people will try to robb you at almost every opportunity, we've been short changed at one restaurant, charged triple the the normal vietnamese price at another restaurant and heard stories of much, much worse.
Just in case you are getting a bad impression of Hanoi, on our first day we witnessed 2 seperate fights and on our second day we ourselves almost had 2 seperate fights. The first one ended in us being evicted from our hotel because we chose not to book our tours through the hotel (this is a regular occurance in Hanoi) and the second one was when we were charged triple the (locals) rate because we are westerners.
All in all we have actually enjoyed our time in Hanoi (we just wish the yanks had finished the job). Joking aside Hanoi is a great all round experience, the city never sleeps and there is buzz about the place, we would recomend anybody to come and see it.
Tomorrow we are off on a 3 day cruise to the world heritage site of halong bay, glad to be on the move again,
hope everone is o.k
lots of love James & Danielle******************************************************