Vietnam, final impression

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Asia » Vietnam » Northwest » Lao Cai » Sapa
January 18th 2006
Published: January 23rd 2006
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After 3 weeks in Vietnam, this is not my favourite country. Espically I did not like the sellers in the streets of Hanoi and Saigon that are really annoying and pushi. Their trials of making a living is not my cup of tea. The common taxi option is cyclo or a motorbike. Those drivers are horrible and very pushi as well. Sometimes they cheat as well, few dollars only, but still, very annoying.
One other thing that I did not like is the way of travelling. Since Vietnam is very long and narrow, Saigon on the south and Hanoi on the north, between those 2 cities connects, more or less, one line. All travel agencies in Hanoi and in Saigon sell the 'Open Bus' ticket between those 2 cities with options to stop is attractive places on the way. This bus ticket is the cheapet relatievly to any other tranportation option so almost all travellers choose it. However, it makes you to be one of a herd and you are not indepandant. One of the reasons that this bus is so cheap, is that on the way, it stops at the company's co-hotels so you don't need to take a taxi and look for hotel on your own (though you may). Of course that it is very convienient and effiecient but I don't like this way of travelling.
Also, is Saigon and in Hanoi, all hotels are travel agencies as well. Again, it is much more convienient and cheap to travel in an orgonized tour to the Meckond Delta (from Saigon) or to Halong Bay (from Hanoi) then to do it on your own. The tours themselfs are OK, they give what they promise, normally, but they lack the finish if the small things. For example, in Halong Bay, they did not give enough food (not only me claimed it). Also, normally, the guides, even if they know English, it is very difficult to understand them. The otherway is also true - it is difficult to the Viatnamese people to understand our accent. In those cases, a piece of paper and a pen is always helpful (and a good practice for China...).
Sapa is a buetifull place in the north, near the border with China. We have spent there a few days. It is famous for its minority people that live around. This is one of the few places that we have travelled on our own using the night train. The methos of buying a train ticket is also very strange. We bought the tickets to Sapa and return via our guest house in Hanoi. When the tickets arrived, it appeared that we need to pick the return tickets from another co-hotel in Sapa. The price is not written on the tickets (as it should) so you don't know what is actually the ticket price.
You can pay everything in US dollars and many prices are in US dollars as well (like train tickets, hotels, etc).
Beside that, Vietnam is a beutifull country. Smaller places like Dalat and Sapa are very very nice and more calm.

Bye, Sharon

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23rd January 2006

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1st May 2006

Sapa train ticket!
Same thing happened to us when we tried to buy the train ticket to Sapa. First we went to the train station, which seemed the obvious thing to do, but it turned out to be a bad idea since none at the ticket window understood english. So we booked it through our hotel: we found out that they charged us exactly double the price of the tickets (which makes $25 rip off!!). The name of this "spectacular" guest-house is CITY GATE HOTEL in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Just so you know for future references!!

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