Last night in Vietnam

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March 15th 2008
Published: March 15th 2008
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Well we are back in Hanoi after 5 great days in Hoi An. We have been here about 5 times now and almost feels like coming home. We were quite upset to find out that our flight to Bangkok is going at 12:40 so we have to leave for the airport at about 10:00. We are not ready to leave yet! We took a car with driver for one day in Hoi An because we hadn't done any sightseeing so I thought we would do it all in one day -- it turned out to be quite a good idea except that I seemed to be allergic to something in the car and immediately started coughing and couldn't stop for about 2 hours -- then on the way to the airport, we had the same car and driver and it happened to me again -- very strange. I am fine today. We visited a place called Marble Mountains -- climed a lot of stairs -- again -- well worth it -- big rocks made from marble with a lot of temples and caves and great views. They import the marble from China these days because they realized that there wouldn't be any Marble Mountains left if they kept using it. There were lots of birds and butterflys and I take back what I said about the Vietnamese eating everything and that the food is terrible -- it is sometimes and there really are places where you won't see any living thing except for people and livestock (designated for eating) but I really love this country. So interesting. We went to visit the ruins in My Son in the afternoon -- nice countryside and green, green rice fields. On our last day we did a bit of shopping and in the afternoon went down to the beach and had lunch there before our flight.

Last night back in Hanoi, we had a break from all the eating and ate at a street stall, to get the system moving again. We went and sat on one of the corner beer bars, drinking beer and eating dry fish (Micha, yuck) and met some nice people until they kicked us out at 11:30 (curfew -- this IS a communist country after all). I think the north is probably very different to the south -- we only went down to Hoi An -- and it was certainly different -- people say it is very touristy and it probably is but we loved it. We hardly bought any souvenirs and didn't visit many places compared to other people. We stay 3 or 4 days everywhere and move quite slowly so don't visit everywhere -- but that suits us. We met people that visited 3 countries in 2 weeks and spent about 1 day in each place and even went for 2 or 3 days to China! We were right on the border with China a couple of times and were tempted but that will have to wait for another time. There were big groups of Germans and French with organized tours everywhere. Evidently India and Vietnam are top travel destinations with Germans.

So why the title of this entry? There are many, many people travelling these days and everybody has a copy of Lonely Planet -- the official bible. It is understandable because you get to these places and you don't have a clue but the problem is that EVERYBODY has the same information concerning hotels and as a result all the hotels mentioned in Lonely Planet are usually full and much, much more expensive than written in the book. You can manage yourself and find cheaper and better accommodation. When I went to Indian 30 years ago (!!) I also had Lonely Planet with me -- it was about 1,000 pages and I used it all the time -- I don't think it had any information at all about hotels and restaurants -- just lots and lots of information -- I could be wrong -- I will check when I get home, I still have it somewhere. Anyway, I think Lonely Planet has had its day -- either go back to lots of information and point people in the right direction or just close down -- they must have made enough money by now. We did stay in one place (that shall remain nameless) in Luang Prabang that we found in Lonely Planet and it was really nice -- just twice the price quoted in the book. We have been staying in Elizabeth Hotel in Hanoi -- a nice new hotel, $25 a night. There have been other hotels that we really liked too -- none of them mentioned in Lonely Planet. So travellers of the world unite and free yourself from Lonely Planet -- the stuff not mentioned in the book is much better and cheaper -- and they have so much useless information about hotels and restaurants that they forget to give you much information about the places to visit.

Have to go now -- eat breakfast, go for a walk and leave for the airport -- sad! Maybe write some more and post some photos from Bangkok -- we have 2 days there.


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