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Published: January 27th 2010
Our room at the Hanoi Guesthouse II
Slept in a bit today, as we knew there wasn't much we could do before heading out to the airport to catch our delayed flight to Hanoi. With the new departure time, not much later than before, we decided to leisurely eat breakfast, pack, and relax before checking out a bit before 12noon.
The Orient Hotel, where we stayed, was nice enough to watch our bags and call a taxi for a pick up to the airport at 1pm. We ended up paying more than what we could have gotten on our own, but when asked on the spot by the hotel, who had been good to us, we just said yes.
We ventured out for a bite to eat at ZEN, a vegetarian restaurant a few blocks away. The food wasn't spectacular, but, what we ordered could have been better thought out too. I ordered a Vietnamese style macaroni and cheese, while staci had fried eggplant. She definitely won the choosing for this meal.
Our taxi picked us up, and we made our way through the hectic roads, saying goodbye to Saigon.
The airport greeted us with an easy check-in process, easily clearing security. However, right as the scheduled boarding time approached, we were informed our flight had again been delayed 1.5 hours, and once boarded, took an extra long time to take off.
JetStar, a much cheaper alternative to flying some of the other airlines turned out to be a get what you pay for kind of deal. Yes, it got us to Hanoi, but it was probably the least amount of room I've ever had on a plane, and being my size, I'm used to less than ideal planes, but this one was much worse than what I'm used to. Additionally, there had to be an infant in every other aisle. Most of them screamed bloody murder during the first half of the flight. Also, literally right before take-off, the grandmother taking care of one of the antsy babies, let the young child run up the aisle. This caused some confusion, as we were just about to speed down the runway. Everything got sorted, but it was a bit odd for sure.
Since we arrived later than planed, we were worried our pre-arranged taxi driver (from our hotel) wouldn't be waiting for us. Sure enough, we couldn't find anyone with our contact information. After waiting 20 minutes or so, we were able to convince some reluctant airport workers to let us use their store phone to call our hotel. They just wanted us to buy sim cards. I got through to our hotel, and it turned out our driver had indeed given up on us and was outside somewhere else. He rushed back in and found us, thankfully.
Exhausted, we made the 45 minutes taxi ride to our hotel, Hanoi Guesthouse. What we had read about our place was that they were extremely friendly, and right away we could confirm this. Getting us cold water, we had a little chat with whom we presumed was the owner/manager. She told us that she had good news for us, and would be moving us into a bigger and nicer room. This all sounded good to me, but then she said the taxi would be there shortly to pick us up, as this better room was in an entirely different hotel location! She was indeed perfectly nice, but this was not the news we were looking forward to after an exhausting day of travel.
Our new place, Hanoi Guesthouse II, is connected with the original one, but aways away from the central area. This was a bummer, as part of the reason we booked the place to begin with was for its location. Everything happened so fast, and it really wasn't worth putting up a stink over it, so we climbed in the taxi and went with it. The Hanoi Guesthouse II is close to a beautiful lake, and the room is very nice, with a comfortable bed.
Hungry, we quickly unpacked a bit and headed out to find what we were looking for... dinner.
We had heard of a great place to do some tourist bookings through that was also a cafe, so we walked halfway around the lake to find the Kangaroo Cafe. Our friends who we met up with in Saigon, Kris and Kelly, stayed in Hanoi the week before us. One of the highlights of their trip here was an overnight boat trip to Ha Long Bay, booked through Kangaroo Cafe. While there, we had a most delicious meal, and booked a 3 day, 2 night trip. It will be the first time Staci and I have ever slept on a boat. How fun!
Started by an Australian couple, Kangaroo Cafe has been in operation for awhile now. Together they established a very successful tour to the bay. So successful, there are many copy-cat companies that use the same name and logo as they do around the city. On the same street, there's another place with the same name and logo. Luckily, we read about this scam, and the REAL Kangaroo Cafe is plastered with "WE ARE THE REAL KANGAROO CAFE!".
Everyone who reads this blog, should check out their website and read about what an amazing place this is, and how exciting our tour will be.
here is the info: http://www.kangaroocafe.com
After dinner and such, we headed back to our guesthouse, ready to call it a night. There will be plenty of time in the next few days to explore this city.
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