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Published: December 1st 2014
We have now been in Vietnam for just over a week and it's been eventful to say the least. After a short and sweet stay in a small hotel, we got up at 9.30am (early for us) and went out to see what has Hanoi has to offer. Firstly though, we went looking for a hostel and quickly found a popular one where we arranged to stay for three nights. The hostel looked really modern and vibrant and we were told we would be staying on the 5th floor so made our way up the stairs. However, we quickly found out there were only four floors so went back downstairs to see what was up. Reception explained how we were in their other less exciting building opposite the road. Entering our dorm on the 5th floor, our 6 bed empty room didn't really feel like part of the exciting hostel we thought we had signed up for!
We decided to check out Hanoi the city after a good breakfast and first up walked to the History of Vietnam Museum. On our walk, with Yoni as chief map reader, we soon realized that Hanoi was not like the chilled out Laos. There were motorbikes everywhere and constant beeping. Crossing the road actually took real concentration as these drivers literally do what they want, when they want and will hoot you no matter what! On the walk we played a game, can you count up to ten without hearing a beep. I think three seconds was our record...
We got to the museum around lunchtime and entered the site. I was excited as I had really enjoyed learning about the Vietnam War at school. Well after about thirty seconds of walking around, we soon realized we could be in and out in under five minutes. The museum was all on ancient Vietnamese history with many old historic Vietnamese rocks and sculptures from over a thousand years ago. I think we stayed for about ten minutes until we could take no more so we left. There was another museum nearby called the Vietnam War Museum which sounded more up our street. Inside here, we stayed for around three hours as we found this museum extremely interesting (yes, even Yoni!) It was very anti-American but even so we learnt a lot more about the war and it was a cool experience. We got some late lunch on our walk back and also witnessed a man riding a motorbike alone through the hectic rush hour traffic of Hanoi with a ladder under his arm! When we got back to our 'reject' hostel dorm, we at least weren't in an empty room as we were quickly joined by Lukas from Germany and Steve from Australia. All four of us were going out that night on the hostel bar crawl so we began drinking in our room together. We all got along really quickly and it was interesting hearing Lukas talk about how he had spent the last three weeks travelling the whole of Israel. By 9.30pm we made our way over the road to the hostel and started drinking at the bar with the rest of the group. The night itself turned out to be a real good night with Lukas not remembering any of it, and Yoni and I rolling in at 6am. Halfway through the night we bumped into some girls we had met in Laos who took us to a cool bar which ended up having a lock in. After more drinks at this place the bar eventually shut at 4am. Look out on Facebook at the pictures and you will see Yoni made some very good Asian friends that night! After getting extremely lost on the walk back, two hours later we finally made it back to our dorm.
The next day was a bit of a write off with Yoni feeling fairly fragile. We mainly chilled that day and didn't do too much either at night. Instead we went to bed early and decided to get up early in the morning to go the Hoa Lo Prison. This was an old prison that was set up by the French to lock away any Vietnamese rebels in the early 20th century. The hour or two we spent there was fairly interesting and brought us up to lunchtime. We met Lukas back at the hostel and we made the 20-30 minute walk to go and see the Ho Chi Minh museum and where his body is kept. After stopping for lunch, we ended up staying at this cafe for about three hours which meant by the time we got to the museum it was shut and we learnt Ho Chi Minh's body was currently in Russia being worked on (whatever that meant). We still walked around the grounds taking some pictures until it started to get dark and then made our way back. Again we relaxed that evening as we had to be up at 7am in the morning as we had booked a two night trip to a place called Halong Bay.
The early wake up was horrible and was then made worse, as for the first half an hour of the four hour coach ride, the Vietnamese tour guide would not stop speaking on this poor quality microhphone with his low quality English. We arrived at the port of the bay and took a small boat to then hop on to our bigger boat which we would be staying the night on. Our group consisted of around 25-30 people who all seemed cool. After lunch on the boat, they began handing out room keys and after one guy expressed an interest to share the free double bed with Yoni, I thought we may have another Frenchie moment on our hands! We didn't however and Yoni and I had our own room with two beds. That afternoon, the boat took us through some amazing scenery with lots of small beautiful islands until we made our way to a cave. The cave was boring to be honest and we were thankful when the tour ended and we were taken to a small beach to chill out for sunset. After leaving the beach, where we played some kalookee, the boat took us to where it was to stop the night. There was a free bar from 6pm-9pm in the evening and after a few drinks everyone on the boat started to gel and the night ended up being a good one.
Kayaking had been organised for 7am the next morning and I think only a third of the group actually made it. As you can probably guess, after setting our alarms for 6.59am we were in the 2/3 of the group that got up too late. Luckily, everyone that did do it said it had been very average. The majority of the day was us being driven on the boat through more very pretty scenery and sun-bathing. We did stop off every so often to jump into the sea but most the day was travelling until we arrived at another port to get off and stay at our hotel. The hotel was on a beach and we played some beach volleyball and football for an hour or so which was sweet. After a really good dinner, the group chilled on the beach around a fire drinking until late. Most of the night Yoni and I spent speaking to a Chínese girl called Star, which we found really interesting meeting someone our age from such a different background and culture. The night was topped off by a guy, clearly the oldest in the group getting clearly the most drunk and giving us some great entertainment. Yoni and I had quickly spotted Richard was the definition of a British idiot abroad. He had been moaning the whole two days about how we had been treated like babies on the trip and that night he just exploded. Before the fire, Richard had treated himself to a high quality bottle of red wine and was drinking alone clearly enjoying himself. Yoni and I spotted him so invited him down to the fire and after he paid for his bottle (he moaned about the price) we all went down to meet the rest of the group. A few hours later, we were watching Richard being dragged by security out of the sea. It was great drama for us to watch this guy lose it after being firstly told, no more swimming in the sea (thís guy had been the only person not to jump into the sea the whole day!), then no more alcohol and then how we were to be up at 7am again the next morning to make our way back to Hanoi. He invited everybody who was still up back to his private bungalow after the beach fire ended where he made so much noise that secuirty was called on him.
Sadly and not surprisingly, Richard was no where to be seen in the morning but can be found on Facebook (see upload 'Richard The Great') and we boarded the boat back without him. It was a long journey back and after the four hour coach we were again back in Hanoi at around 4pm. We said goodbye to some of the really cool people we had met on the tour and went for dinner before the idea was to take a thirteen hour sleeper bus down south to a place called Hue with Lukas. During dinner however, Yoni suddenly noticed that his rucksack had gone missing. We came to the conclusion that it's probably been stolen between the time of getting off the coach and entering the restaurant or Yoni left it in the taxi. Instead of taking the sleeper bus, we postponed it until tomorrow and went to the police station to get a report for the insurance. That evening, we chilled out and met Star for a few drinks before heading to bed.
It's now late afternoon and we have our bus to Hue in roughly two hours. Like I say, it has been an eventful week here in the North of Vietnam and we hope it will continue in the South.
Love Sam and Yoni xx
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another great chapter written so well Sam, make sure you keep the booze drinking down a bit as Yoni and you gotta be careful! Wonderful blog and photos on facebook. XX
Wonderfully recorded. There's a lot of drinking going on over there. be careful and goodnight.