I have made it to Hanoi in one piece and only got over charged by 4 times on the taxi fare to the hostel....the great news is that i don't have to get any more taxis...this place is small enough to navigate on foot and see lots of it!
After my train journey I have opted to stay in Hanoi for the rest of my time here rather than doing any further travelling to Hanlong Bay (this would involve a bus journey and then a boat) or alternatively visiting Sapa the option of another train journey did not appeal and the windy roads make a bus journey even less attractive and there is no way in hell i would ever contemplate riding a motorbike in the UK so it is absolutely out of the question in Vietnam.
There are several lakes in this place...it feels like a smaller older city but with all the modern amenities one needs and expects...with the exception of my hostel that does not appear to have functioning wifi other than in the lobby pc's....but a small price to pay for quiet and security!
The temperature is definitely
cooler in Hanoi however also more humid, so plenty of perspiration taking place which is making me start to long for the Scottish weather...yes I am a total whimp when it comes to high temperatures.
There are so many reasons why I should dislike Vietnam...the heat, the mental drivers and their motorbikes, the horn beep sound being a constant of every day life, the smell of food / dust / standing water, the rats & crockcroches, the constant harassment to buy donuts in the morning or take a motorbike ride anytime, the loud speaking and yelling from children...yet despite of all the above annoyances I think this country and it's people are brilliant!
I have seen so many dads actually play with their kids on the train and in the parks or streets, it just proves that you don't need tv's / computers and expensive toys to have fun. They love their small dogs...they have so many of them. Even though their English maybe poor & their map reading skills are worse than mine they still try to give directions. They are daredevil drivers with nerves of steel....i am in awe of them! I
love their sense of madness to ride their bikes no matter the weather or the amount of traffic, using pavements or the opposite lane to get to their destination. The majority of restaurant / cafe staff have been very pleasant and thanked me for my custom and to return again...which was very endearing. Finally they don't have a lot but they are willing to share what they do have, giving money to less advantaged than themselves...which I find very noble of them.
In light of the food poisoning incident and the heat I have not sampled much of the local cuisine which is a real pity, but I need to be sensible what with the return flight and then work on the Monday.
Just when I was starting to feel a little less apprehensive of crossing streets, I witnessed a motorbike accident with 2 young girls, thankfully they were not harmed and miraculously there was no damage to their bike, despite it being bumped at the back and then smashed to the ground while throwing both girls off...I certainly was far more traumatised by the experience than the girls who kept on laughing and
looking at me while the other drivers were laughing at my reaction...i guess i did look weird being all concerned for them when the rest of them just accept it as a hazard of driving in Vietnam!
Over the past few days I have noticed a number of younger men posing for photos either via ipad or mobile phone taken by another male companion of a similar age and ethnicity...the background scenery is just as bizzare...next to a motorbike or against a hand railing...in my opinion not very imaginative however hopefully they serve their purpose what ever that may be...possibly as escort, gay or male husband adverts?
Walking round the streets today, I had to go up and down pavements to avoid the motorbikes and in a split second managed to trip over and ended up scrapping my left knee, which was caked in dust and dirt...thankfully it was not too painful and I saw the funny side, here is me trying to avoid injury by a motorbike and instead I self inflict one on myself "nice one"...a group of young lads who witnessed the whole thing kindly said it was ok for me
to use their water hoose to wash my leg...while they had a wee laugh of course! I guess this is what I love about Vietnamese people, they also see the positive side and are willing to share, what a great combination.
To top it off, it has been much cooler today and very overcast which had me totally fooled since I managed to get the lobster red look I had so far managed to avoid...now i look like your typical British tourist abroad...a glowing red colour, covered in mosquito bites and with a knee injury (i am embellishing the last one, check out the photo!)...in the event that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are ever looking for a female version for their idiot abroad series I would be a prime candidate.
While here I have visited a number of sites such as the Ho Chi Minh park, the temple of literature, several of the lakes and a few of the pagodas / temples.
Finishing off with a few observations:-
I have seen virtually no monks while in Vietnam they all appear to be in Cambodia and Thailand.
It has been fun meeting people at zebra crossings and striking a conversation while trying to avoid being hit by the motorbikes...it is amazing how much more courageous you feel when there are at least two of you against hundreds of motorbikes!
In the evenings lots of people descent to the lakes for a bit of recreational dancing - salsa, tango and what ever takes their fancy - a bit of light jogging or just walking round with their t-shirts tucked to their armpits (the guys that is) - I am not convinced this look will catch on, but obviously helps to keep them cooler...i tried to take some photos of all of these activities but I was unsuccessful...just let your imagination go wild!
I have also seen a couple of new cinema releases the "Hangover part 3" nice to see things come to a conclusion and the new Will & Jayden Smith film "After Earth", they were good excuses to get out of the heat for a few hours.
Well sadly that is the 3 weeks almost up and I have once again thoroughly enjoyed my time away, and feel
totally refreshed...it is amazing what 3 weeks away from work can do to your energy levels...just wish it could be done more often and not just once a year...well until the next trip thanks for reading!
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