Published: August 8th 2012August 8th 2012
We arrived back into Hanoi late afternoon after a relatively uneventful journey (by South East Asian standards). The hotel was clearly pretty quiet, we had a welcoming party of about six members of staff who faffed over us as we came in the door. After settling in we decided to go for a wander to find some food, we wanted to eat a bit cheaper so we were looking for a roadside cafe / stall doing a mixture of fish and meat. No such luck, we found plenty of places offering shellfish or meat but nowhere seemed to have fish let alone a combination of meat and fish. We ended up settling for a cheapish place that gave us some pretty underwhelming food, disappointing given the time spent looking.
The next day we’d planned to have a lie in and then see the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and museum, however we found out from a member of staff that the mausoleum closed at 10.30am so we had missed that. Still we thought we would see the museum anyway which we were told would still be open. The member of staff ended up being completely wrong, it turned out
the mausoleum didn’t open at all on Fridays (as well as mondays...when we tried last time!) and the museum closed at 11.30 and we ended up with a completely wasted journey.
The day wasn’t totally wasted though, we used the time to wander around the old quarter, went for a walk around a lovely little temple on stilts over the lake, went to have some food and get some tickets for the water puppets. The water puppets ended up being really, really good. Instead of a stage there’s a pool of water, a set from behind which they control the puppets and some musicians who play traditional Vietnamese music to accompany the show.
It’s a bit like the Vietnamese Punch and Judy, only the puppets are controlled by rods and pulleys held under the water from behind the set I mentioned above. The puppets kind of appear to all walk on water.
We spent most of that evening scouring the night market for some deals, we got a pair of sunglasses and a vest top that lasted all of a day. Quality merchandise.
After some long thinking and
too many long sleeper buses, we decided to splash out and fly to Laos. We had heard so many stories about the bus taking anywhere from 24 - 60 hours, with no stops and people smuggling drugs on your seat and drivers falling asleep etc etc etc. The flight was well worth the $120 for the 2 days it saved us! So we were flying from Hanoi to Luang Prabang in Laos on Saturday evening and we had a taxi to the airport booked at 4 so again we spent the afternoon wandering the old quarter. We spent a little bit of time in the Dong Xuan market where I managed to find a full Liverpool top and shorts for about 3 pounds. Now, I know it’s not real, but it’s not half bad for 3 quid.
We got to the airport a bit late, our taxi driver had to get some petrol on the way, but we got checked in ok and got seats next to each other on the plane. When we were called to board the plane it ended up being one of those airports where you get a bus to the plane. Our
plane was over the far side of the airfield and ended up being a turboprop, it could carry about 80 people so it wasn’t too small.
Rachel’s never really liked the idea of small planes , so the idea of flying on a turboprop didn’t go down too well. I’m not sure I made things any better by pointing out the thunderstorm out of the plane window (or saying...oh sugar, i hope we are not in that turboprop!). Still, we missed the thunderstorm, the flight was uneventful and we landed on time. Customs and Visa on Arrival was pretty painless, took about half an hour and we were on our way to the guest house.
We are a bit sad to leave Vietnam as we have loved it. There is so much variety within the country, from beautiful old towns to stunning beaches and lovely countryside. We took slightly longer than intended and to be honest, only wish we had longer to spend here! But now its time for a new adventure...roll on Laos!
There are more photos below