It's not right, I don't get it...
Trip Start Mar 11, 2006
14Trip End Apr 18, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Arrived in Hanoi after a couple of Air Asia flights. A taxi from our guesthouse met us at the airport, which was great. Iy was a reasonably long trip into the old quarter of Hanoi and the streets were crazy. We didn't realise that people drive on the righ-hand side of the road, so that was a big surprise! I really can see why it's hazardous to cross the road here. Our guesthouse is great (Hanoi Guesthouse at 14 Bat Su Street, and excellent value for the price (NZ$12!) and includes breakfast. We meet Ha, he's a Vietnamese man about our age and very helpful. We chat to him about tours and decide to see the Perfume Pergoda tomorrow and get information on a cruise in Halong bay for the next day. We pretty much settle down in our room and have an early night once we've got our tour sorted.
Perfume pergoda today, up early for breakfast at 7:15
Today the plan is to cruise into Halong Bay and then stay on the boat. After another early start and a long 3.5 hour ride to Halong Bay pier we board our Huong Hai junk boat. We are with a young Dutch couple, a middle aged American man, three young french guys and a Vietnamese couple. We get along with the American guy and the Dutch people quite well and end up eating with them for our meals and chatting to then a fair bit. We start by cruising on our boat out into Halong Bay
This morning we're up early, as has been the trend over the past couple days. We have a french style breakfast and then we're off canoeing. The place we pick the canoes up from is a fishing village and the floating house next to the school has our canoes. Some of the boats carried the canoes on board but we just called past and picked ours up. They are all double canoes, so of course Trudie and I share. We paddle through a few natural rock tunnels and into 'suprising bay'. It seems to us that there are a few suprising things here! Some people gofor a swim in the bay that is only accessible via the small tunnel, we don't. The weather isn't so warm today and only gets up to about 24'C. After a long paddle back we're on the boat again and then transferred to another for the trip to Cat Ba island. Only Trudie, Tom and me are doing the 3-day trip so the others continue back to the Halong Bay pier. There is one stop before we get to Cat Ba, Monkey Island. We are told there are 15 monkeys on Monkey Island and there is also a monkey keeper to feed them. Seems strange to us, monkeys usually look after themselves! We decide to not leave the boat as it isn't very warm and continue straight to Cat Ba. The ride takes us roughly 45 minutes. We don't seem to have a vehicle to take us to the hotel so we end up on the back of scooters. It's a quick 10 minute ride to the Prince hotel, though they spell it PrinceF or on some of the signs PrinceS. So, we are a little confused. Initally we get a room with two single beds, we ask for another but am told that ours has a great view. We decide since it's go such a good view we'll just push the singles together. Only problem is when we get to the room the view out the window is a brick wall about 10cm away, some view. I pop down and swap to another room with a double bed, incidentally the view from here is better
The boat ride is back from the island uneventful. The bus part of the trip is slow and uncomfy. We're soon back in Hanoi at the Hanoi guesthouse (at NZ$14 per night including breakfast!) We don't know about Vietnam. It is very weird, soooo many people and the roads are chaos! Total chaos, we thought that we'd seem chaos in Thailand or Malaysia but this it. The traffic is so thick sometimes and some roads don't even have markings. The scooters can be up to 10 across and it's like a sea, at the intersections no one gives way. So you have streets full of scooters and the odd car practically runninginto each other and then swerving at the last minute to avid each other
The weather is looking a little better to day so we planto go for a stroll around the town and maybe check out some of the sights. We stroll around the lake and end up having lunch at a good place (Ciao Cafe, near the lake.) It isn't cheap by Vietnamese standards but the food is great as isthe atmosphere. We plan to go to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum next but after finding out that it was presently shut went to the war museum. We catch a taxi to the war museum and travel a few kms but the cost is only 18000 Dong
Today we decide we'll try for the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum (stilt house and palace.) Unfortunately it's closed at the time we arrive and so we decide to carry on for lunch at the Ciao Cafe from yesterday. We slept in today under the premise that we should be getting into London time, hence the relatively early lunch ;) My lunch is a bit more average than yesterday (pizza) but Trudie enjoys her pasta. After lunch I grab a can of Orangina (orange juice), wouldn't do this again - it's not very nice.
Round the corner is the water puppet show, we decide to call past and check out ticket prices and show times. As luck has it turns out there is a show starting in 10 minutes and we can get some aisle seats for 20000 Dong each. We grab the tickets and file in. We don't buy a camera ticket (as we have no money left!) but I take some photos anyway, though they're a bit dark to see anything. The show is pretty good and definitely worth the money and time (goes for about 45 minutes), even our aisle seats were comfy enough for this time. There is a Vietnamese band to the left and the water stage in the middle. The show is divided into 17 segments that blend together to constitute the show
On the way back to the guesthouse we come across shoe street. Now let me explain, Hanoi seems to have all these streets that support a single kind of product or perhaps range of product. For example, around the corner from us is stainless steel street where people bang day and half the night making oven hoods, cabinets and fire flues. Round from there is sunglass street, and then hat street and so on. So, we came across shoe street. I'd been planning to get another pair of shoes so we take a look. Most of the shoes look to be good quality rip-offs but we think we can get them cheap. The staff in the shop, as usual, invite us in and ask us our size and bring us shoes they think we'd like. We don't succumb to the ploy and browse around ourselves. I find a few pairs and so does Trudie, we try them on and find that I like a couple of pairs and Trudie does also. Just fo reference I run next door to find out some pricing (they have prices on the shoes next door). And the bargaining begins, we want 3 pairs of shoes total and are prepared to walk out if we don't get a good price. The shop assistant starts at 585k, 385k and 300k for the shoes - total of 1270000 Dong. This price is, of course, way too high. We counter offer 500k for the 3 pairs, which they are disgusted with. Eventually after much bargaining we end up paying 620k for the three pairs (less than NZ$60 and a bargain). We're happy. Back to the guesthouse and then out for dinner. We decide to go to Trong Khach, which has a set menu and is quite cheap. They have western food and have been handing out flyers at the water puppet show. It's only aruond the corner from us and we've passed it a couple times and thought it looked OK. We arrive and are seated, I order the set menu with BLT sandwiches as the main and Trudie goes for a big pizza. The meal turns out to be pretty good, though I wouldn't say great. The set menu is only 39000 Dong and Trudie's pizza is 55000 Dong, all together it comes to about NZ$10 so pretty good for western food.
We've decided that we should stay up late and sleep in so that we're getting closer to London time, we leave tomorrow so the less jet-lag the better. We messed up our arrival dates so we have a day less than anticipated so jet-lag won't be appreciated! We watch a movie and a couple documentaries on discovery and fall asleep at midnight.
As planned we sleep in but can only stay asleep until 9:30. I go down grab our breakfast and bring it back up to the room. Trudie's still in bed so it's breakfast in bed. We do have a nice deck though the sun isn't out and it's not that warm yet.
Have been for another stroll about the town. Trudie has picked up a pair of seeing glasses with correct prescription lenses for 23000 Dong which is only about NZ$20! Wow, what a bargain. I grabbed a bag, just an over the shoulder job. Weve got our jeans on now are all packed up, waiting for the taxi to come. Off to the airport then Vietnam air to Hong Kong, then British Air to London!
Talk to you then - this ends this part of our journey!