Published: May 1st 2012May 1st 2012
We've been in Vietnam for 5 days now - a couple of days in Hanoi and a side trip south to Cuc Phuong National Park and Ninh Binh. Hanoi is a great city - busy, noisy with lots of tooting motorbikes.
Our highlights of Hanoi so far have been:
Enjoying sampling the local street food in the Old Quarter. My favourite is the pate rolls and Tom is a sucker for anything sweet. He got caught out tonight though mistaking what he thought was a sweet rice pudding for a salty pork congee.
The Women's Museum. It was really interesting hearing about the women of Vietnam, how hard they work to earn extra money so their kids can go to school and how highly regarded they are in society.
Spending an evening drinking 25c beers at one of the Old Quarter's "pop up" bars which is a bar on the pavement that basically consists of a keg and tiny plastic stools. The lady serving the beers was in her pyjamas and the bar closed unexpectedly at 9pm when a police van drove down the street making some sort of announcement. Everything was packed away in a flash
and the street was emptied in a few minutes... bit bizzare
We spent one night at Cuc Phuong National Park. It was meant to be two nights but because it was the big may day holiday the park was overun with Vietnamese families and we decided to escape the school camp and left early. The journey to and from the park was the real adventure and some of the highlights include:
Catching a lift 20km out of the park with a Vietnamese guy and his four kids.
Experiencing Vietnamese bus driving. Pretty scary, I was only a few minutes into the journey and I was already planning our escape route in the event we crashed. Officially they drive on the right hand side here but seems you can also drive on the left, down the middle, or wherever there is a gap that looks big enough to squeeze through - all you need to do is toot your horn constantly and someone will get out your way.
Jumping on the back of a motorbike (sorry Dad this is probably one of the things you were referring to when you said be careful - if it helps
I felt a lot safer than on the bus!) to go visit Mua Cave and the stunning view at the top of the 500 step climb.
Tomorrow we head to Halong Bay for a couple of days, spending the night sleeping on a boat.
There are more photos below