Trip Start Mar 27, 2012
34Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
What I did
But let's talk about the bus journey getting here to start. That wasn't so entertaining. As 24 hour buses go, it was fine. Here's a big bus, with a fair bit of space and a good amount of breaks between, heck, it even had a toilet.
It also has theives.
Yes, the iPod is gone to the black markets, and the thief will be going straight to hell. It also appears that the Laos bus organizers are very ethnocentric, sticking all the non-nationals to the back of the bus in the rubbish seats. But enough about that. Border crossing in Laos is a very hectic affair. Expect to be woken at the break of dawn with a hundred others and queue for several different stamps
So, after passing all the different checks and finally being let into Vietnam, all whilst avoiding the sad eyes of barbarically caged dogs, we headed for the sticky city!
We arrived into the bus station which was still miles away from the Old Quarter, so you guessed it, we had to battle through yet more locals wanting our money to get on another bloody bus. When we arrived though the turmoil of the journey melted away (minus a little residual Ipod sadness understandably).
Having only eaten roadside food and crisps for the last 24 hours we headed out in search of a hot meal to spend some Dong on, and it was well worth the 100,000 we spent (3 pounds) though finding places proved a challenge; we decided to stay away from the whole roasted dogs, just to clarify! Food in Vietnam is a little more expensive but there are so many places to eat...and so many crazed scooter drivers. Crossing a road here literally consists of walking into moving traffic, it is terrifying but somehow it works
We spent a good few days here, taking a three day intermission to visit Ha Long Bay (see our next blog for this), so we got up to a fair bit. We watched a water puppet show which is an ancient Vietnamese art, visited a prison museum, saw Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, the Hoan Kiem lake and the Heroes monument. But the main thing we did was just wander around, which we have found is definitely the best way to see a city, especially such a vibrant and active city as Hanoi. I genuinely don't know when they sleep. Just be careful around the lake area, we had a near catastrophe when somone tried to literally pull Lauren's bag from her hands; a lucky escape.
We even looked into the idea of buying a motorbike here and riding it down the country, but that proved too expensive and too unsafe. Nevertheless, I am now capable of driving a manual bike, which I did through the Hanoi traffic after a cheap lesson.
I think that is that for Hanoi. If you fancy it you must stay at Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, providing you like a tipple or 12. It's a hectic but lively place, full of a wide range of characters.
All in all, Hanoi is hectic, but in no ways stressful. Just remember to bring some ear plugs if you like your sleep.