I think it's safe to say we're back on track with this blog and everybody feels up to date. Now for an introduction to Vietnam - our current location.
(As you already know) we were up at the crack of dawn in Kathmandu and racing across town in a clapped out old taxi to begin our epic flight across Asia. We left the tiny airport in Nepal heading for Delhi, in the opposite direction of our final destination. After a short wait in Delhi, and a load of money spent on decent books, we pressed on to Bangkok. A few complementary whisky and cokes and the flight seemed to take two minutes. This is where our 17 hour wait began. Bangkok airport is pretty awesome, but the novelty soon wears thin.
Finally left Bangkok at around midday and touched down in Hanoi airport well over 24 hours after leaving Kathmandu. We jumped on a bus into town and had our first encounter with vietnamese dong (the currency you dirty w***s). The change from west asia to here is enormous! Everyone is in swanky clothes and the dorms and hostels are immaculate. A no beards and lots of aftershave you need a decent haircut kinda place. We are literally a thousand miles from India here. After a quick familiarisation with our local area, which included a cool lake in the middle of town frequented by hundreds of very friendly people, we tried our best with street food. It was interesting to say the least, just sausages and other bbq type snacks, we were obviously yet to find the real thing. That night we made friends with a couple of bar goers and made the most of the amazing nightlife hanoi puts on. A few grotty bars which the police systematically kick you out of until you're all in a filthy little club covered in graffiti and god knows what. Aww, it felt just like home.
As you can imagine the morning wasn't particularly productive but we still managed to get out around the city. We started off visiting a political prison first used by colonial french and later by vietkong to imprison crashed B-52 pilots. On the way back through town we had pigs heart and kidney for lunch it was amazing. stringy, but amazing.
Up early this morning at 7am to grab the bus that would take us to Ha Long bay. Unfortunately the weather was absolutely terrible when we arrived; grey and cloudy. Such a shame. The bay was stunning though - thousands of small islands littered with jungle and caves. Our tour guide, Timi, who came with the boat was an absolutely delightful bloke (not). A highlight was definitely kayaking around the bay in some old and battered canoes as well as a huge cave we visited, it literally felt like being in a cathedral. Our room was nice enough, but unfortunately it was right by the engine room and we got stunk out by diesel fumes.
Cruised around the bay on the way back to the port. Was really cool to see the bay again, but the weather was atrocious again! We think it's definitely a place you need to return to with some money and get a nice boat. The bay itself is beautiful though, it's nice to have seen it in the flesh.
Woke up early and got downstairs to grab our first included breakfast (told you hostels here are snazzy). Over breakfast we found out that the Ho Chi Mihn mausoleum closes at 10:30am?! We bolted down the rest of our food and flew out the door to make it before it closed. We made it all the way across town, through the posh consular part of town to be told we weren't allowed in! Because we were dressed in shorts and vests!! Shambles! Absolute rookie mistake! Should have learnt by now! The afternoon included a tour around Hanoi markets and our first black market purchases... some decent headphones. It is so humid here!
Caught the sleeper bus down south to Hué. The night buses here in Vietnam are crazy. The bus looked like something from blade runner! There were tvs, fairy lights and everything apart from sufficient space to lay comfortably. Something ergonomically designed for asians is gonna be way too small for us.