Hello, well we arrived in Hanoi on Wednesdaynight about 10pm, got a taxi from the airport to the 'Old Quarter' - it's all French colonial and stuff like that. But it was absolutely lashing it down so we had a quick look around but just ended up spending more than we would of liked for our first night.
The next day we found somewhere cheaper and then had a walk around the city. Neither of us like it much, it's really busy and cramped, there's loads of smog and it takes ages to cross the road 'cos of the ridiculous amount of scooters around! (video to follow!)
The following day it was raining again but we donned our sexy ponchos and managed to fit in our sightseeing. First stop was the Museum of Ethnology - dedicated to all the different artifacts, etc. of all the different types of tribes people up and down the country. Then we went to the Temple of Literature which was pretty boring, and finally the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Here we were supposed to be able to see President Ho Chi Minh's embalmed body but unfortunately it was on it's yearly hols in Russia being restored - bummer.
After this we wanted to try and book a tour to Halong Bay but rather than go with a tour company from Hanoi we thought we'd be clever and try and do it ourselves, that is to say we got a taxi to the bus station discovered no one spoke English and could understand our demands and had to return defeated and out of pocket! Had luch cheap that day - laughing cow and crisp baguette, mmmm. So we went with a travel agent in the end and had a great time.
We did a 2 day, 1 night tour, staying on the only inhabited island - Cat Ba of Halong Bay (world heritage site). Cruised through the beautiful islands and stopped to look in some caves which were amazing and lit with really cool coloured lights. The guide kept pointing out what local people thought different bits of rock looked like, e.g. a dog, a dolphin and a one point a giant nipple.
On the water itself is a floating village - a bit like Waterworld but not as impressive, there is even a floating school for local merchildren which was funded by the U.K. -random! A couple of the 'house boats' actually had cement and brick work on them and washing hanging up along the side. That night we had dinner at the hotel and then managed to find a bar playing the rugby - woohoo throught to the semi final!!
Cruised back this morning and sunbathed along the way, wasting time now in Hanoi before catching a train at 11pm tonight for 13 hours to Hue in central Vietnam. We are in a 'hard sleeper' cabin which basically means our matresses our thinner than teh soft sleeper. Can't wait to fins out the comfort factor there, will let y'all know soon enough.