We got up and headed down for breakfast which was included with the room- bonus! I tried fried eggy bread which was lovely and Nath had noodle soup which was a speciality in Hanoi. Before heading out we booked our trip to Ha Long Bay through the hotel with a boat called Dragon Deluxe Cruise by APT travel company. It looked pretty good and was a reasonable price ($95 each) for what you have included. You set off in the morning at 8am to travel to Ha Long Harbour to get the boat. You do three activities on the first day- an island with the biggest cave in Ha Long Bay, kayaking and an island with a beach and viewpoint. You get lunch and dinner included and spend the night in your own private cabin on the boat. The next day you get breakfast, visit a pearl farm and then have lunch on the way back to the harbour. We were really excited to go on the trip, it looked beautiful! The weather forecast kept changing, sometimes said rain and cloud and sometimes sun and cloud so we were crossing our fingers for okay weather!
The weather this morning wasn't good at all! It was pissing it down and was really misty. I got my rain mac out for the first time and we bought a brolly. The people selling stuff on streets sold everything! Today everybody was just selling rain macs and brollies- everywhere! We went shopping in the morning and treated ourselves to new trainers and I got new shoes too. The two pairs of trainers and my shoes came to 90,000 dong for everything (£28).
Later we went to Hoa Lo Prison Museum which was interesting. It seemed a little biased though but still something new to see and learn about. The prison was built by the French during the revolution in Vietnam to hold Vietnamese revolutionaries and political prisoners, where they held them for many years and tortured them. Later during the Vietnamese-American war it was used to hold American pilots that were shot down and captured. The Americans called it the Hanoi Hilton as they were treated so well and then released back to America when the war ended. We were confused as to why they treat them so well and released them with no harm. It was awful as it was easier for us to get our heads around torturing an enemy than just holding them in prison with no harm. It's sad really as there wouldn't be many other nations that would treat their enemies so well as the Vietnamese did!
Late afternoon we bought some munchies and sat by the lake enjoying the view. It was really misty and eerie looking and it rained a little but it was still really nice. We bought a brolly as that was one thing we didn't bring, but we didn't even end up using it. We sat in a bar in the old quarter on little stools outside under a big umbrella from the rain watching the madness go by. It was a really busy area of the city so it was nice to just sit and watch everybody. There were always people stopping on bikes or walking by trying to sell anything and everything to you.
After we went and freshened up and went out for dinner for our special valentines celebrations! Not really! We forgot it was even valentines day at first. It's not celebrated here but they are aware of it been celebrated by tourists so some places have special menus and some people were selling balloons and roses. We found a restaurant that looked pretty nice but it wasn't that great to be honest. The food was overpriced and not the best but it was okay. We found a lively bar after that was playing English music. It was a little dudey bar with sofas upstairs so we relaxed there for a while and had a drink. We went back to the bar in the middle of old quarter after with the stools outside and had some
more drinks there. We met a Canadian guy there who we were chatting to. Then when we were asked to sit inside as it got quieter we started taking to two Vietnamese guys too. There was only us, the Canadian guy and the two Vietnamese guys inside when the police came round. The locals said that they come round to bars every night to show their presence and authority but usually just go away. This time though they told the bar that it was time to close so we had to leave.
We went to a different bar with the Canadian guy that wasn't really a bar but two women selling beer on the street with little stools to sit on the pavement. They kept asking us to be ready to hide or move back away from the roadside in case the police came, but they never passed by. The three of us met two people who lived and worked in Saigon and we sat chatting with them all night. There was a German girl and a Philippine guy so there was a real mix of us with loads to talk about! We spent the night drinking until 3.30am when we decided it was time to call it a night! We didn't realise that everything had closed around us and when we were walking back the streets were deserted with not really a person or vehicle in sight. It looked eerie and weird as it was always so busy. It was nice and peaceful though for a change!
When we got back there were shutters down on the hostel which we wasn't expecting at all! We had to buzz twice and get them up which was pretty awkward as it was so late. They never mentioned anything about the shutter though, think it's more of a security thing as they have kids and live downstairs. They didn't seem to mind at all, though we kept apologising! We had such a brilliant night, a good drink and met some interesting lovely people! Good night in Hanoi!