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Published: April 9th 2010
Day 127: Saturday, April 3rd, 2010.
Halong Bay back to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Per Intrepid notes, "Days 9-10 Hanoi
We catch a bus to Hanoi and hope to arrive by lunchtime. The afternoon is free for you to explore this delightful capital city. Why not stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter or relax at a cafe by one of the city's glassy lakes before meeting up with the group for one last dinner together? Our fully equipped hotel in Hanoi is centrally located near the historic Temple of Literature and has modern twin and double rooms, ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning. Day 10 is free for your own explorations but please be at the 6:00pm meeting where you'll get to meet your new travelling companions for the China leg of your journey."
I slept okay- once again I was worried about all the evil germs that were on me- especially after I got a whiff of my pillow about an hour into my sleep. Oh well, I'll sleep again someday. It is gorgeous outside- not sunny (doesn't sound like it's sunny that often here), but the fog is amazing.
We eat breakfast (where they kept bringing us toast with chopsticks!) and then I head up to the top deck to take pictures, pictures and more pictures. We get back to the harbor and we're all wondering if we're going to have to walk thru another boat to get to the dock- there is no space left at the dock. Nope, how it works here is that the boat makes room. Our boat literally found a 2 foot gap and hit the gas (albeit slowly) and pushed two boats aside. No one yelled at us so I guess this is normal.
So, back on the bus to Hanoi. It's kind of annoying that I am saying goodbye to this group tonight (except for Rita) because their tour ends and Rita and I are continuing on to Hong Kong with another Intrepid Group. Doubly annoying is the fact that our first stop after Hanoi will be Halong Bay- we'll repeat what we just did. When I had booked this trip with Intrepid back in November, I had booked one long tour that went from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Beijing, China. However, a few months later when I was
in Europe, they notified me that that tour had been cancelled and I had been placed into two tours that would be back to back and would be basically the same. Unfortunately, I'll have repeat days on this tour. Halong Bay will be one and in China, Yangshuo will be another (and that will involve 2 overnight trains- so, look forward to that happy blog!)
In Hanoi, myself, Susan and Tini head back over to Old Town and do some last minute shopping. There's one building that looks like a mall but when you go in it's still just stalls and stalls and stalls of stuff (translation for "stuff": crap). There is a "shoe store" that has fake plastic mannequin feet in every pair of shoes and they're piled up like some M*A*S*H* amputation room floor. Cool. I buy a few bracelets and we head back to the Hong Ngoc hotel. I play on the net for a while and watch TV. I am checking out of this hotel tomorrow and checking into another one about 10 minutes away to meet the next group, so I don't have to do a super pack job this time. Susan is leaving
tomorrow evening about 5pm so she gets to chill as well.
The group meets up one last time for dinner and we go to the Green Mango
. Bao had asked if we wanted traditional Vietnamese for our last group night and everyone stayed kind of quiet. He then asked if we would want something more Western and I think our faces lit up. Yes, we are hear to experience their culture, but our stomachs and palates needed something familiar. This is a pretty fancy restaurant in Hanoi (has other locations in Vietnam as well) and we all had a chance to meet and dine with Bao's wife, whose name I can't remember. Sorry! I splurge and order Filet Mignon with roasted garlic and mashed potatoes and I was in heaven. It was the most expensive meal I had in Vietnam- came to about $15 US. We head back to the hotel, give hugs all around because some are leaving early tomorrow (Tini at 6am and Stephanie & Taylor at 8am) but who knows if we'll meet up with the others during the day. It was a great group to travel with, I imagine they would have been a ball to
tour Cambodia with.
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