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Published: October 3rd 2008
LAKE IN HANOI
this is central area of hanio-a beatuiful relaxing lake with bridge to small island
#15-NORTH VIETNAM HOLIDAY
I left Korea 28th September 2008, for a quick holiday in North Vietnam before going home. I was unsure if I would be ready for it or not, since I knew it would be more intense than Korea. I also only planned to spend my ‘laid-back’ two weeks(?) around the north of Vietnam only. I would like to see the other areas further south during other future ‘winter vacations’ from teaching in Asia; at least, that’s the plan.
I was a bit sick the first day with the rush of leaving Korea and bad neck from dozing off on plane. I actually managed to find a hotel by myself without too much hassles from touts in old market area. I crashed out most of first day in Camellia Hotel- It was a bleak tiny room; all stark white with four white pillars in each corner; supporting the tallest ceiling I have ever seen; lying on the bed was like being at the bottom of a white lift-well. 'Woke up in my delirium and thought I was in some sort of 'elevator to heaven'...
Anyway, next day, back on earth, soon 'got into it' and walked
around beautiful lake nearby and got lost around market area. (It would not be Asia, if you don't get lost at least a few times a day).
I also searched around and got a good room and negotiated price down. Being closer to the lake and having elevator (a real one this time) were the deal breakers. Walking up even one flight of steps leaves you drenched in sweat; I had 4 flights. I thought I was so cleaver. 'Booked into hotel; got into elevator; start going up; electricity cuts out....
After five minutes of sweat pouring onto floor, they finally wrench open the doors and I climb out and pour into my new shower. Still, getting stuck is worth the risk, with Air-con, bar fridge, big satellite TV, free buffet breakfast and internet computer in room. It is good to have a rest in the heat of the day in comfort, because being outside is hard work.
I will use this hotel as a base among small 1 day, 2 day and 3 day tours around the North and explore Hanoi on ‘rest days’.
Like Cambodia, getting around was not too hard, since getting on the back of
motorcycle-taxi was very fast. The hard part was negotiating the price. The Vietnamese were much harder and expert at bargaining than the Cambodians. Still it was very cheap and fun to bargain, except at the end when then ask for more than the price you agreed on!! The place was packed with traffic, mostly motorcycles, even on the footpaths. It was crazy everywhere but fairly relaxed around the lake at the old market area (where I and most of the ‘younger generation’ stay)
Basically my four main trips out of Hanoi were-
1. Halong Bay- boat tour boat cruise around karsts peak islands.
2. Sapa- trekking with Hill Tribe people in mountains near Chinese border.
3. Perfumed Pagoda- river cruise and cable car to temple in cave.
4. Tam Coc and Hoa Lu- bike ride and river cruise thru limestone caves and visit to ancient capital.
All of these places where quite spectacular and enjoyable and I would have hated missing any of them even though the walks, kayaking and biking were sometimes exhausting. I will let the photos speak for themselves.
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