Hanoi was our first destination in Vietnam. As an introduction to Vietnam it certainly gives the impression of hustle and bustle, something which subsequent locations have disproved. There is something like 2 million motorbike owners in Hanoi and I get the impression everyone of these takes to the streets around 5 in the afternoon! As a result of this, crossing the road is something of an ordeal and the best way to approach it is either to walk very slowly across as the motorbike will avoid you (don't ever stop!) or, my personal preference, slipstream one of the locals as they have an uncanny knack for crossing without any trouble!
The greatest ordeal of the trip was definitely the journey to Hanoi from Vientiane in Laos. It started fairly trouble free but around 2 in the morning things took a turn for the worse when the driver decided that an ice cold village near the Vietnam border was the perfect location to park the bus up for the night. I put layer upon layer on and tried to get myself comfortable but to little avail and I imagine I got somewhere in the region of 1 to 3 hours sleep!
In the morning we headed for the border crossing which was very conveniently situated high in the mountains! The weather reminded me of a bad day in the Lake District and it just so happened the immigration office was not yet open! Having waited a good while for it to open with an ever increasing queue of locals and tourists, the electricity then went out so our passports were then processed, very slowly, by candlelight! We finally got through border control and from there it was plain sailing with only 8 more hours on the bus.
Whilst in Hanoi we visited a number of culture centres including the Museum of the Revolution, the Prison Museum, the Temple of Literature and the New Century nightclub! The last being an eye opening experience which was very similar to what I imagine some proper dance nightclubs in London would be like if they had a large number of drunk old Vietnamese guys in them!
In all honesty I wasn't too upset to leave Hanoi but it wasn't without its charms, especially for a city of its size and population, and was definitely better than Bangkok in my opinion.
Take care of yourselves,