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Published: January 21st 2020
We arrive from the overnight train journey about 930am.
My first opinion of Hanoi is that despite being large city, full of Vietnamese people who drive like psychos, it's still a lot more chill and quiet than Saigon (Ho Chi Minh).
We check into our hotel, my room's on level 8 - the elevator only goes to level 7.. AGAIN. I'm not quite sure how they designed these hotels, but what a fucking ball ache.
We do some sight seeing to see: Long Bein Bridge, The Literature Museum, One pillar pogada, outside of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his house and then the biggest waste of time ever - the crashed B52 Plane. It looks like someone had a fight with a can opener. It was an epic walk through a narrow alleyway full of shops with crazy motorbike's going passed though.
I wake up early and go find coffee close to the place I've planned to have breakfast. I'm starting to realise Google's stated business hours are less reliable than Simon Bridges political campaign promises. By this stage, it's 630am, nothing's open and I'm about to piss myself. You probably think I put too much information into this blog sometimes, but my opinion is: Not enough.
Anyway, I find a place that's open and have my first Coconut Coffee which is delicious! (That was the whole point of all this segment - to inform you that it's good)
While we're on the bus to our Home stay, Manh decides to talk to us a little bit about the state of politics in Vietnam and how they're not allowed to protest or say anything remotely negative about the government. When were talking 'protest' that could be anything, from animal rights climate change, etc.
Basically if you do so, you'll get arrested, tortured or killed. They're a communist state and have had several civil wars. Most people are too afraid to stand up for their rights and they're entirely controlled by fear.
To make matters worse, they're competely brain washed into being patriotic and thinking their government does good things to make them proud to be Vietnamese. "We are helping out in Africa and when other troops see our Vietnamese flag on our uniform, they just let us go straight through!" It's kinda astounding how comfortable they are eating up this bullshit propaganda and it makes you appreciate how lucky we are in New Zealand a lot more.
We arrive at the Sung Village Homestay located in the mountain region to the West of Hanoi. The village is populated by the Vietnamese ethnic group called Dao Tien and has approximately 70 households. This is one of a few villages close by the Da Bac Community Based Tourism group work with in conjunction with my tour group Intrepid.
Our Homestay has clearly had some money poured into it in comparison to the other houses in the village. Manh told us Intrepid provided them with a loan. The loan means they could afford to make the place cater for more people which helps them bring more money to the village.
The rest of the village is small, with dirt roads, lots of dogs, chickens, ducks and pigs kicking about.
We go for a wonder, then on the way back see a couple of kids kicking a football around. We ask them if they want to play a game, they call over a few more mates and we have a game with sticks as goal posts. A few locals come along to watch us, they've had a few more white people come to the village in the passed few years, but they still find us interesting.
One of the kids playing with us on my team I've nicknamed Ronaldo as her turned up wearing a jacket and pants, we get him to join our team, he takes them off and he's cranking a full football kit with boots (albeit clearly second hand and competely beat up). Ronaldo is maybe 7 years old and easily the best on the pitch - leagues above the others in his village. It's sad this kid because of where he lives, will never get recognised for all the talent he has.
We go for a wonder through the village and stop in at one of the local houses. They have 3 generations living with them all in one big room. Given there's three generations, you wondered how they got down. Like that'd be gross as to wake up to.
We go exploring further and come across a large cave full of bats. The photo's I took make this look incredibly average, but it's pretty cool really.
We go back to the Homestay, where we have drinks and dinner, then the locals perform their native dance for us.
The next day, we're up early and go trekking through the countryside and down a large mountain. Some of the scenery there was absolutely stunning and the pictures really don't do it justice.
We then take a boat over to a local fishing village called Da Bia. It's a lovely little place, with little happening. We have lunch then because the weather took a turn, we end our boat journey early and get stuck in some rural as fuck fishing village, waiting for the bus to pick us up. It was weird, because the whole village was hanging out together and we just turned up unannounced and sat there outside one of their properties waiting for the bus.
That's enough for today, tomorrow we're off to Cat Ba Island.
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