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Published: March 20th 2010
Journey to Hanoi
View from the coach window
Stu and I survived our 20 bus journey to Hanoi, it wasn't very nice as we had to go at the back of the sleeper bus, I was wedged between Stuart and a Vietnamese guy and didn’t' get any sleep really.
We arrived in cold and rainy Hanoi, very tired, so we quickly found a room in the old quarter and caught up on some sleep.
After some sleep we ventured out to explore the new area. Hanoi was very very busy, mopeds were everywhere and the streets are very narrow with no pavements or whatever pavement there was being taken up by a stall of some kind, add to that the fact our guesthouse was in the middle of a market so to get anywhere we had to tread over market women with bowls or live fish/worms/sharks or other fresh produce on the floor, dodge mopeds and the streets are so dirty the rain turns to thin a thin mud that just gets everywhere, it was very stressful and as soon as we made it out of the market area, very dirty but with our lives intact, we decided to change guesthouses as having to tackle that every
Journey to Hanoi
Another pic from coach window
time we wanted to leave/get back to our room was too much.
We got up early the next day and found a much more conveniently located guesthouse.
We didn't do a lot in Hanoi really; we visited the Hao Lo Prison, which is a 17th century prison which housed the American Prisoners of War. We also went to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh (Bringer of Light) was the founder of the Vietnamese Communist Party and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 1946 until his death in 1969 during which he was responsible for Vietnam’s independence from France. He's affectionately referred to as Uncle Ho.
His body in mummified in the mausoleum but unfortunately that part was closed so we didn't get to see Uncle Ho!
Our nights in Hanoi were spent at Bia Hoi Junction, as previously mentioned, Bia Hoi is the Vietnamese draft beer they sell at approx 12p a pint brewed by local's and sold outside their shops where you sit on their little plastic chairs and tiny plastic tables. Bia Hoi junction was a combination of 5 of these establishments on the 4 corners of a junction in the Old Quarter, and a
stones throw away from our new hotel! This was a great way to drink in Hanoi and a brilliant way to meet people, you are all so crammed together at the Bia Hoi shops its difficult not to. We met quite a few interesting people, on one occasion we ended up in a club with a few people we'd met doing stuntman tequila's, were you snort the salt of you hand, drink the tequila and then put the lemon in your eye (or something like that), I stuck to my gin and tonic but Stuart seemed to enjoy them!!
We also went to the cinema in Hanoi and watched Alice in Wonderland in 3D, I've never watched a film in 3D but it was excellent, and the film was really good, if anyone hasn't seen yet then I'd defiantly recommend it - off with his head!!!!
After not being that fond of Hanoi to begin with it grew on us in the end and has been one the best cities.
After 3 nights in Hanoi we booked our trip to Laos, a 24 hour sleeper bus. We made sure we were one of the first on the bus to pick
Hanoi - Vietnames Tea
Stu drinking Vietnamese Tea
our seats, but after getting the best seats we could find the driver walked up to me and yelled at me to get up and go to the back of the bus in between 2 strangers, I refused to move and after much shouting at me in Vietnamese, then shouting at Stuart as they wanted him to move too, they finally gave up and we kept our seats. I don’t know why they wanted to move us anyway.
They had overbooked the bus by about 7 people, I assumed they would just apologize and turn them away, but no, they took out bits of foam and told the people to lie on the floor in the isles of the bus!! Surprisingly they did it and were laughing about it; they were traveling like us and suppose they just wanted to get out of the country. This meant that no one could get to the toilet on the bus due to the bodies in the isles; this was a 24 hour bus journey!!
Anyway, apart from that the bus journey wasn't too bad and we arrived in Laos the next afternoon.
The sun is out again in Vientiane, the capital of
Hanoi - Lake
View from Lake in Hanoi
Vientiane is one of the smallest capitals in the world, its doesn't look at all like a capital and more like a smallish town, there's a few nice restaurants here but other than that not much really.
We hired bicycles today and rode round for the city for while, then stopped at a bar and had a pitcher Laos Gria, they're version on Sangria!
Tomorrow we'll go to Vang Vieng which is 4 hours away by bus, this is the base for the infamous Tubing, were you hire a big rubber ring and drift down the river being fish hooked in by bars along the way - cant wait !!
I'll let you know how it goes in the next blog - hope you enjoy the pics.
Laura and Stu Xxxx
PS Mom - I am still getting eaten alive by mosquito's, I spend a fortune on sprays, candles, burning coils and creams but they still manage to get me - they must be immune !!
Taking malaria tablets and get mosquito nets when possible but they are such a nuisance - you'd hate it !!
Love you Xxx
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