We left Kuala Lumpur and took our last Air Asia flight to Hanoi in North Vietnam. We arrived to 18 degrees and were cold and not pleased that we had sent all our warm clothes back to Newcastle with Mark. Now you might think 18 is a nice warm day back in the UK but when you've been used to 30 degree heat, 18 is then cold. Hanoi was very dusty and foggy when we arrived in the old town and we found a hotel for £10 a night, which was by far the nicest room we'd stayed in so far through Asia! We decided to go for some good old western food i.e. pizza and ordered a margareta from this little french cafe, unfortunatly the pizza came with black olives and pineapple, on a margareta! Not our best meal. So we settled instead for a long crispy baguette from a little shop, the baguette was delicious the lady however wasn't very nice to us.
We spent a day sight seeing around Hanoi and Matt was really looking forward to visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh's sarcophagus but the line
to get in was a good mile long and would have taken all day to wait. We instead headed to the temple of Literature and although we didn't understand what most of the things were that we were looking at it was a very beautiful and peaceful place. We then visited Hoa Lo Prison where explainations were in English and the walk through the what is now left of the prison is really interesting. Leaving the prison we got the feeling that the north still hold a bitter-ness for the Americas. We also went to a water puppet show that was great but again we ran into an unfriendly lady while trying to buy second class tickets for the show, she refused telling us they were sold out and that we had to buy first class tickets for more money. What she forgot to do was hide the second class tickets that she still had on the desk, a very grumpy woman indeed.
We booked a trip with the hostel up the street from where we were staying and thought it would be nice to spend some time with some other travellers. Halong Bay is east of Hanoi and
has over 3000 floating islands in amongst emerald waters (quote from the book, can you tell). We asked at the hostel how visibility was going to be as between February and April Halong Bay is suppose to be really foggy, he told us that he had been on the trip the week before and had been sun burnt and that it would be fine. This was not the case, after spending 3 hours on a bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay we were told that we might not even be going out on the water as the fog was so bad! We spent an hour waiting around and evenually got the go ahead so got on the boat as fast as possible and headed into the mist of nothingness before anyone changed their mind. We paid £50 each for the boat trip which is pretty much an overnight booze cruise and started drinking as soon as we stepped on board. We both jumped of the boat from the top deck and got very drunk during a massive game of ring of frie. We were a little disappointed that we didn't get to see Halong Bay that evening but the fog
had lifted a little the next morning so we did get to enjoy the view a little with our thumping hang overs!
We journeyed back to Hanoi and were picked up for our first overnight bus journey on a sleeper bus. We had been told some interesting stories from different travellers about the sleeper buses so were really surprised when we got on the lovely clean bus and comfy chair beds and had a great nights sleep.
We spent 12 hours on the bus before we arrived in Hue, a completely different place to Hanoi and so much better. We found a room for $8 a night, about half the price of what we payed in Hanoi and the room was even better. We went out for dinner and both had the best Lasagne in the world. We visited the Citadel, an old imperial city where Matt found another Geo-cach. We also booked a day trip to the royal tombs which started by taking a dragon boat on the Perfume river to Thien Mu Pagoda and then on to the tombs of Minh Mang, Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. We liked the tomb of Khai Dinh which was
surprising as this is the one the guide book says isn't as nice, we thought differently.
We then took a bus to are next destination, Hoi An, which is the place to get tailored clothes in Vietnam, this was more than obvious at the millions of tailor shops around the town. Hoi An was again completely different to both Hue and Hanoi and we both really liked it here. The old town is very european and very yellow as you walked around. We visited the small Japanese Covered Bridge which is guarded at one end by a monkey and at the other by a dog because the building of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and finished in the year of the dog. We also decided to get some clothes made while we were here, you know because it's the best place. We found a shop that Kerry liked a coat in and that was only going to cost $30. We left the shop 2 nights after with a coat each, 2 dresses for Kerry, a suit and a shirt for Matt! In total we spent £103, bargain.
Matt and Kerry
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