Published: November 23rd 2011November 10th 2011
Vietnam – Hanoi – Motorbike madness with Moto and Cyclo!
After arriving in Hanoi it soon struck me that it was going to be as crazy on the roads as Ho Chi Minh, on the way from the airport to the city I saw several accidents and it looked quite frightening and for once in my life I was more than happy to be on a bus.
After finally locating my hotel I grabbed a coffee or two and waited for Bard to arrive from England, I was kind of interested to see his first reactions when he got out of the cab, it was fair to say it was one of WTF is happening here, why can’t I manoeuvre my suitcase across the road without fear of losing a limb! Welcome to Hanoi Brad!
After a quick shower it was time to do what Brits do best when they are catching up, yep you know it, go to the pub for a pint. The only thing is everything shuts so early here and we were kicked out at 11pm and then repeatedly offered “Lady for Boom Boom” all the way home. As much as it was such
a lovely offer and worded so beautifully we both declined.
We have also taken on new names during our stay here, mine is now Moto-bike and Brad’s is Cyclo. Basically every 20 meters one of the thousands of moto or cyclo drivers will say “hey moto-bike” or “hey cyclo” where you go, what you want?? As they seemed so insistent that our names were these we decided to adopt them for the duration of our stay here.
Whilst in Hanoi and being the spend thrift that I am I somehow managed to convince Brad that it was a smart move to hire a moped to explore, he reluctantly agreed under one condition, I drove! I was up for a challenge and holy shit it was one hell of a challenge. We visited several sites within the city such as the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the One Legged Pagoda and a Catholic Church and to be honest they were all pretty poor but the real experience was being on the roads for several hours, it was simply in sane and there were many moments when two 32 year old men were reduced to making noises similar to a
five year old child out of share panic. Traffic came from everywhere, there were no rules and to help the situation we had a moped that repeatedly stalled 3 meters after you pulled away leaving you slap bang in the middle of a manic junction, all in all a very stressful day on the bike!
You think we would have learnt a lesson from the day before but no, we wanted to visit a national park called Ba Vi, the taxi for the day was $65 or to hire a decent moped was $10, guess what we went for?! The only slight issue was the distance, it was 70Km away so this meant going on the highways which are even more terrifying. As we set off with no map and basically no clue, we were soon lost in the city and couldn’t find the highway, it was the worst traffic I have ever had the misfortune of being in, it took one hour to go a couple of kilometres, which meant breathing in exhaust fumes and getting your feet run over by all the other bikes as you sat there, it’s like someone has said there is a million
pound for the first person to cross the traffic lights and everyone wants to get there first, total carnage, but strangely very exciting once you accept the situation you're in. After we found our way and hit the highway we made a stop for lunch where we were about one miss placed word from being married off to one of the employees there. A group of local lads couldn’t believe we weren’t married and took it upon themselves to correct this situation. After politely declining their very kind offer of a bride and copious amounts of rice wine we hit the road again, it was like something from the movie dumb and dumber with us pair on a moped driving to the middle of nowhere, I’m just glad no one needed to pee!
We eventually made it to the national park and it was very disappointing indeed, again the highlight of the day was the journey and not the end destination, although Brad may disagree as he had to sit on the back of the bike for several uncomfortable hours and travel the equivalent distance of London to Norwich, happy days.
The swansong to our time here was
a visit to the” world famous” Water Puppet Show, this was going to be a big highlight for sure! The lonely planet states it’s a must see experience, I happen to think they left the word NOT out, it was terrible and lasted over and hour and sadly we couldn’t really leave because it would have looked so rude and disrespectful, so we sat it out and watched a carp turn into a dragon for one final time before we headed out to get a final farewell beer in Hanoi. The next stop along the way is the part we had both been waiting for, a trip to Ha Long Bay. It looks absolutely stunning, let’s just hope for once in Vietnam the photos actually represent what we will see and are not a random image taken from google, bring on the cruise!
There are more photos below