From Thailand to Vietnam
Trip Start Feb 13, 2013
32Trip End Mar 16, 2013
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The flight was less then 3hrs, I don't remember much I think I slept most of the way. When we arrived in Hanoi we had to go and get our Visa, in order to be approved for a Visa you need to have a letter of approval from the Vietnamese government and a passport size photo of yourself, the cost is $25 US per person. We provided them with our paperwork and then once they processed it the man behind the counter asked for $80 US. We tried to explain that we thought it was only $50 but he said we had applied for a multiple entry visa, it was also confirmed on the letter. I must have ticked the wrong box when completing the application form, lucky we had enough Dong to cover the charge and were able to pay with that so no problem.
We found our driver almost immediately and after a short drive we arrived at the hotel, we checked in and were shown to our room. We got up level 4 and when the lift doors open we were hit with a foul odur, it was a really strong damp/mouldy smell. We were shown to our room and when the door opened I nearly choked, it smelt worse the the hallway! There was mould growing in the bathroom, the curtains, walls and bedding looked dirty and the worst bit was the bed was wet. Not just damp but physically wet... We went downstairs and explained we couldn't stay in that room, Chris is just starting to get better from his cold/cough and I have started to pick it up now
The Elegance Sapphire had a room available so Tsu walked us to it, they only had a suite available so she offered to upgrade us to it for free. She showed us the room and it was beautiful, it has its own private balcony and is decorated in an old French style. We agreed to take the room but the only problem was that the room was unavailable the second night we needed it. Tu then called around again and got us a free upgrade to a 5 star luxury cruise of Halong Bay for the night that the room wasn't free. She was amazing!!!
Our only problem now was that we had to go back to the other hotel and let them know we wouldn't be staying there and to pick up our bags. Tsu had the security guard (Tuan) from our hotel come with us in a taxi to assist us and to collect our bags. What service! The manager at the old hotel said we can check out but we need to pay $18US for the driver who picked us up from the airport but we would also need to pay over $300US for the two tours we had booked with them. Because we were getting the free upgrade with the other hotel we didn't want to do the cruise through the old hotel anymore (we also got told that the cruise we had booked with them has had complaints) we also had another day trip planned that was meant to be the following day (which was now the day we needed to go on the cruise because we didn't have a hotel room)
It was now after 4pm in the afternoon and we started researching the tours, the company website and referring to our correspondence with the hotel. The tour company's website did say you will lose your money if you cancel, but that was only referring to paid tours there was nothing about tours where you have not paid yet. The correspondence between us and the hotel and also the hotels website again mentioned nothing about booking tours and then cancelling them. We bought some Skype credit and Chris tried to call her and explain but the phone kept cutting out, he ended up sending her a text message saying that nowhere in the email or on the website does it have a policy or any terms and conditions about booking for tours so therefore he doesn't believe he should have to pay
Once the text message was sent he said "right lets go get a drink and something to eat, no problem".. His so amazing in difficult situations, doesn't panic or get flustered (well if he does he doesn't show it) I panic for the both of us and he just comes on in and sorts it out. We went walking through the city and first stopped at a pharmacy for some cold and flu tablets, then we found a coffee shop.. Amazing coffee! We went upstairs but the room was so short we couldn't even stand up in it.. Lol Chris made his second Vietnamese friend, his first is the security guard named Tuan from our hotel, he was the one who came with us to the old hotel and helped us. He is kind, polite and speaks English very well. But it's funny because he is so tiny yet his the security.. Haha Chris' second friend was a guy selling lighters on the street, he tried to get us to buy something and we got chatting to him. Chris ended up buying a lighter from him that's metal and has the petrol inside but it has like a metal matchstick on it with a wick on the end, you take that out and run it down the side of the lighter to light it. It was pretty cool so Chris just had to have it. We got his number in case we need a hand with anything whilst in Hanoi.
We then ended up at the city view cafe which is cafe on the 4th floor of a very old building overlooking the city
So we left our $18 with reception (he said we were to nice and that we shouldn't even have to pay that, we figured whats $18 if it means its resolved) we confirmed our booking for the cruise the next day and went out to explore the city with huge grins on our faces that everything had worked out
In Hanoi the streets are themed so you will walk down a street (block) that sells all shoes, another will sell all sunglasses, another pottery, another jewellery, we even found a whole street that sold mannequins... We found a few nice restaurants and got there cards so we would remember where they were, and one guy gave us the address to find a bottle shop. We had to ask for directions a few times but the people here are so kind and always helpful, if they don't know how to speak English or don't know where to go they will ask someone else. Sometimes you might end up with three or four people huddled around working out where you need to go.
We eventually found the bottle shop and it was on a street that was all liquor stores, a bottle of bourbon and gin cost us $22!!! Bargain! We had to ask directions a few more times but eventually made it back to the hotel where enjoyed a few drinks in the private garden of our suite..