Hanoi Day (07.07.2012): We arrived into Hanoi at 5:30 am yesterday. The sleeper train was a nightmare. It is definitely best to get a proper sleeper than try to sleep in the seats. It is so loud and uncomfortable. I didn't know it was humanely possible to snore as loud as our neighbours. The Vietnamese sure can snore!
On arrival we were swamped by the usual taxi drivers who got us in such a fluster we ended up walking 2km in the wrong direction. Every step was painful, we were so tired and our bags are still so heavy. It was about 7:00am before we found our hotel which was way before the check in time. They let us drop our bags off and served us some breakfast. We then hit the streets of the Old Quarter stopping for tea as and when. We felt like zombies all day! Our task was to find a reputable booking agent to book our cruise to Halong Bay. This took hours - nipping in agencies getting info on the tours then finding wifi to check them out on tripadvisor. There are so many appalling reviews. We were first quoted $95 dollars for 2 nights first of all but the reviews were very bad. We have ended up splurging on a $250 on the most highly rated cruise!! Oops I don't think we will be able to do anything in Australia! Safety first though as some of the cheapest cruises have sunk - last year 7 tourists died.
Very excited - We leave tomorrow on the Dragon Pearl Junk Boat. We are heading to the less touristy area Bai Tu Long. The cruise includes kayaking, hiking, trips to floating villages etc. and all food. On the second night we will have dinner in a cave! When we first looked up Vietnam this was the main thing we wished to do so really hope it lives up to all the expectation. We have just packed our little backpacks for the trip. Ready and waiting!
Today we checked out a local market and had a walk around the main lake here. We are both kinda tired of sightseeing in Vietnam now. We love the country, it is beautiful. Sadly we have not encountered the friendliest of people though. In fact I have never been anywhere where people are so rude. No-one says hello or thank you (except in the hotels where they have to); you are only spoken to when they want to scam you. They all bump into you. No one looks you in the eye and generally everyone acts like they do not want you to be here. I tried to buy something at the local market today and they would not sell anything to me. Apparently it was for locals only! Every time I touched something to buy it I got a NO NO NO. Everyone was much friendlier in Cambodia and Thailand. I just want someone to smile!
We got so frustrated today that we have spent much of the afternoon in the hotel. Maybe we are on a downer from our wonderful time at the farmstay. Time well spent sorting out our plan for the Aussie road trip though. A rough road trip plan now exists.
We managed to catch Murray's match last night!! Sadly I doubt we will be able to see the final or the F1 on the boat. I am sure we will be checking it out as soon as we are back in our hotel though.