Arrived in Vientiane in Laos last night and thought it would be about time to update about our last few days in Vietnam.
We took a 12 hour sleeper bus from Hue to Hanoi which at the time I thought was the worst bus journey of my life, but it turns out I was horribly wrong after our journey from Hanoi to Laos...more to come on that in my next blog! The sleeper bus however doesnt have real beds but seats that don't quite lay flat so you wake up (if you managed any sleep!) with the worst back pain ever! It's definitely not built for people as tall as me so I was curled up in a ball all night. I don't think many of us were surprised when the majority of the bus were fuming when a Vietnamese guy decided to play music off his phone at 5am and laugh when we told him to shut up!
Anyway, we arrived at Hanoi feeling pretty irritable and checked into the first guesthouse we found. It was right in the middle of a street market which was pretty interesting but also disgusting when you see fish being slaughtered right infront of you! We spent the day sorting out our trip to the world heritage site Halong bay as this was our main reason for the visit to Hanoi. Kat and I then hired a cyclo (who short changed us and the rode off with a grin before we could say anything!) and headed to the Ho Chi Minh masoleum which basically involved a walk around his houses followed by a museum full of propaganda about how he was such an amazing man...we weren't so convinced. There was definitely a different atmosphere in the city compared with southern vietnam and I'm sure this was due to the communist influence. We found the people in the south a lot warmer and the people in the north seemed to want to con you all the time.
We managed to meet up with Sam (the guy we met in Hoi An) and grabbed some dinner with him. We had planned to go and see a water puppetry show which is traditional in Vietnam but unfortunately it was sold out. So we ended up finding a performance at the national theatre of a classical guitarist from Japan who was unbelievably good.
The next day was the start of our two day tour of Halong Bay. We took a bus for 4 hours to the bay and were straight on our boat and having a fresh seafood lunch. It was weird to be out on the bay as I've seen so many pictures of it before, it was just a bit surreal. We cruised around and stopped off at some caves where the tour basically consisted of our guide using his imagination and telling us what animal shaped the rock formations looked like. It got boring pretty quickly. After cruising for a couple of hours and enjoying the scenery, we docked at a floating village where we went kayaking in the calm waters. However as Kat and I were the last to get a Kayak, there was only one oar left, so I heroically rowed us around the bay as Kat got to sit back and enjoy the views! We spent the night on the boat which was great fun and got to meet a load of new people who we will no doubt see again on our journey.
The following day was a cruise back to the harbour followed by yet another seafood meal and a bus journey back to Hanoi. It was definitely worth going to see but it was just so touristy. After arriving back in Hanoi, we had a couple of hours to chill before getting on our epic bus journey to Vientiane...more on Vientiane in a couple of days time.