Last day in Hanoi! :-(
Pancakes for breakfast today-just because I'm on holiday!
As if I just typed some of this up only to delete it by accident! Fool.
Right take two: after breakfast we realised we needed to pay for our ha long bay trip upon check out and so decided to run to the bank. Then we realised we probably had time to run to the cathedral and have a look at it's 'neo gothic' like ness. Which seriously only took a few snaps on the old camera as we realised we had plenty of them in England. Our next task was to go to the Hanoi Hilton (no this was not where we were staying, but the old prison from the Vietnam war). The conditions they described were pretty horrific and some of the images were pretty sad to see. The living quarters (also 'jail') for the Americans appeared to be a very different affair. Larger rooms, celebrations allowed...whereas the Vietnamese were in stocks the majority of the time. They seemed to have got quite an easy ride in comparison-well you know apart from being locked up without seeing their families for years etc.
It was 11am after this and so we realised we needed to actually check out before hitting the temple of Literature. On the way back we met the WORLDS WORST TRAFFIC JAM. See the pictures for more details. We also heard the LARGEST THUNDER CLAP EVER. And so did what any sane person would do...hid in our hotel room until check out!
This was when we realised that our trip to the Temple of Literature was not going to happen.
We also realised we wouldn't be eating until late and stole an umbrella (once the rain had calmed down to British standards) and dashed out into the floods. Our first plan was to go left down to the waterfront this plan was halted when we saw a newly created natural lake blocking our path. Rather than wade through the 2 foot deep water, which was brown and screamed: 'disease lives here' we turned on our heels and went to a vegetarian cafe we'd passed the other night. Turns out vegetarian Pho is just as good as beef or chicken Pho. We're even getting quite handy with the old chopsticks.
After this was a short wait in the hotel lobby until our pre ordered 'private car' (yes we're posh now) arrived. We arrived at the airport at an exceptional time. We would be able to drop off out bags, go through security and chill out before our flight. We did not expect our 'chill out' to last over 5 hours! The plane was delayed from 6:25pm until 10:05pm. Due to our ability to follow procedure and be at the airport in time, this meant that we would now have to wait 6 hours. We then realised that 4 other planes would be taking off from Hanoi to Ho Chi Min within that time. So we had an amazingly foolproof plan: stagger all the planes so that each earlier plane got on the next plane (you know seeing as all the planes were the same plane doing the same journey to the same place). This meant each planes load of customers would only be delayed by an hour and we wouldn't have to be hoboes for 6 hours. Unfortunately our explanation and great plan got a bit lost in translation. The woman (humourless may I add) just kept repeating the flight numbers to me and saying they were different. Yes we knew that; we weren't stupid. We got a bit riled, mainly because she failed to see how wonderfully brilliant our plan was, and so gave up. She did tell us to wait 'over there' (picture: already taken seats and a hard floor) until 40 minutes before the next few flights and maybe if some poor soul doesn't turn up then we would get their seats. Hmmmmm...hanging around on a hard floor for two hours (the next flight was at 7:30 as we couldn't fit on the one which was leaving) or see what was hiding upstairs under the title of 'restaurant'? You can guess which option we took!
Upstairs we found our oasis: restaurants, air con, beer, chips, wifi and a socket to charge our phones. We were complete. It was after our second beer that we decided to just wait until the ten o'clock flight, we didn't want to have to rush through departures for the earlier ones at the drip of a hat, plus I'd booked us on 'extra room' seats for this flight-which we didn't want to miss out on! (I must have already foreseen that we would be classed as giants out here and so requested giant seats for our giant backsides). We also thought it would be a really poor chance of squeezing on the next few planes.
So we carried on drinking and eating (probably why we're classed as giants out here) until 8-our new check in time.
At the security check (quite honestly the easiest check we've ever been through) people showed a serious inability to queue-which always annoys my British self. They were also leaving their water bottles on the floor for me to step on, over etc. Leading me to ask Laura if that had already been there or if I'd just 'laid' it. She seemed to think this was the funniest thing she'd ever heard, which clearly showed how much we'd had to drink! I soon realised that the water bottles on the floor were because of the lack of place to put them. You know how most airports have bins for you to dispose of your water bottles, tweezers, hand grenades (yes it was on the photo of things not to bring in) etc? Well this airport had a floor. Thank god nobody had a hand grenade!
Once through security (honestly ten seconds-tops!) we realised we still had an hour and a half of nothingness in front of us. So we purchased some chocolate to her is through the night. Finally our plane was called and we were herded on like cattle (which was when I realised my fears had been proven right-we were flying on the Vietnamese version of Ryanair!)
On the plane we found our seats and praised The Lord (and myself for cleverly booking) for our extra room seats. Yes they were big enough for a wide load, but they also had: a leg rest, a large space between each one, back support AND A CURTAIN SEPARATING US FROM THE COMMON CITIZENS. Yes. It's true. We had paid for 'first class seats' with only one British pound. Ok so they were nothing like the first class pods we'd seen on the long distance flights, but we had leg room and we were going to use it!!!
On the plane we also found that there were only about 50 people on the plane, which is when we realised we probably could have squeezed on an earlier flight...
I can safely say that it wouldn't have mattered if we'd had regular seats or not as we promptly fell asleep until landing, waking only a bit during turbulence.
At Saigon airport we just wanted to go to bed so we got a taxi from the grumpiest taxi secretary woman ever, which we shared with a Colombian couple, and headed to our hotels.
A long day!