Hanoi, Halong and Ho Chi Minh's Corpse
Trip Start Jan 16, 2009
40Trip End May 26, 2009
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Where I stayed
On the bus we met Ambriene who we'd met in Phnom Penh and we took over the back seats. I say seats, I mean beds, It was half seated bus (the front) half sleeper bus (the back) so depending on how much you paid depended on how comfy you were, not at all or very not at all.
We had a food stop at 8pm, by which time we were really hungry due to this being the perhaps first bus trip ever we'd not brought snacks on. The food stop was at a dodgy little place called the DMZ cafe, there were noodles or rice. We went for noodles, they brought me rice. Ah well, were so hungry it was fine.
Sleeping on the bus was a whole lot of fun, we were right on top of the engine, so v warm.
We got to Hanoi and it was raining!!!!
So we jumped in a taxi to the hostel. The meter was rigged and it ended up at over 300 000Dong which was about as much as our over night sleeper bus tickets. Quick thinking Emma White went to the hostel and got someone from reception to come check it out. When the driver saw her coming over suddenly he turned the meter off and was confused as to where exactly we'd got into the taxi at. We stuck to our guns and paid him a more appropraite price. Fail taxi.
When we got to the hostel it was still not even 9am, even though the bus was actually late. We had a nap and tried to sort out the plans for the next few weeks (i'll not tell you more for dramatic suspense..)
There was a rock festival on not too far from our hostel that everyone seemed to be going to, but we didn't due to lack of sleep and illness. Emma W's got a cold AGAIN (in the tropical hea and everything, it's quite a skill)
We had a few beers in the bar due to it being ANZAC day and happy hour all day. We booked onto a tour of Halong bay for the next night and had an early night
We set off to Halong bay at 8am after our free breakfast (bread, jam (banana jam disguised as strawberry jam is the most disappointing thing ever), tea, coffee, instant noodles)
There was a large group of us, 29, going so we had two buses, we were on the smaller bus. The journey was 3hoursish to get to the bay, there was a refreshement stop at a place with really very nice toilets.
The dock was mental, hundreds of boats and tour groups everywhere! We eventually found our boat, the One Cow, Huan Cao even.
We had our welcome drink and were all given ridiculous hats to wear. Ridiculous. Met our guide AJ etc..
We set sail and had some food, the food was awesome, a banquet! There were loads of differnet dishes, we even at the tofu, there were prawns and noodles and rice and fish and it was awesome.
The activity for the day was kyaking, we all paired up girl boy and off we set. EmmaW paired up with a boy called Jonny and me with a boy called Jamie
At one point we rested in this secluded place and formed a raft with all our kyaks, Emma W was the bravest of the girls and ran accross them, so as not to be out done by boys!
By the time we got to the Fairy cave i think my arms were about ready to fall off, and we still had to get back. Oh my.
The fairy cave was cool, we were the only people around. We had to scrambloe under and through and around rocks. There were 3 cavey rooms, stalactites and stalactmites and shineyness etc. AJ told us stories about the caves, who knows how many of them were true though..
After a rest at the cave we had to kyak back, my arms really will never forgive me for that! I (ER btw) actually got onto the boat last and i do hate to lose!
It reallly was very beautiful in the bay though.
When we got back I had a swim in the bay, the boys were jumping off the very top of the boat, very spectacularly. I walked down the ladder as I am a wuss
We had a well needed tea, of montrous portions like at lunch, again very good.
Party night then followed.
We started with a game to get to know everyone's names, not that people forget Emma and Emma easily, but we sure forget theirs in a second... oh dear.
There was music and dancing and getting to know people til the small hours. Some people swam over from another boat in the bay because their boat was rubbish and ours was the party boat.
Due to there being so many people on the trip another boat had moored up next to us with extra beds, this is where our room was. Really a very beautiful room much nicer than loads of hotels we'd stayed in so we made sure to go to bed (unlike some people, who were crazy) to enjoy the nice room.
A few hours later, 7.15 we were woken up.
Perhaps not feeling at our best..
We went up on deck and napped in the sun whilst the boat moved us to a different place. Some people were doing another night on an island and had a 4km hike up a hill to do, oh my, we felt quite happy not to be...
When we''d dropped off half the group and said our goodbyes to our new best friends some people who'd spent last night on the island joined our boat. They were far too chatty and awake!
We had another massive lunch, that had perhaps too many vegetables for our liking, but that was again, awesome.
After a stop for some swimming we headed back to the harbour and had to walk through 4 other boats to find the dock.
Again a 3 hour bus ride back to the Hostel in Hanoi, quietest bus ride ever as everyone was asleep.
Back in Hanoi we had a nap before burger o'clock on the roof. We got carried away and had two bbqed burgers because they were so good. Went to sleep nice and early to compensate for the night before and because today (Tuesday) we had sightseeing plans!
We woke at 7.30am and had the free breakfast then jumped in a taxi to go and see Uncle Ho.
Ho Chi Minh, the 3rd and final man on our dead communist leader tour.
We were indeed very excited.
At Mao and Lenin bags were definatley not allowed, but somehow they were happy just for cameras to be handed over for free to a booth and for us to keep our bags.
There were indeed a lot of vietnamese people going to see uncle Ho, hes a lot more popular than Lenin, though perhaps not as popular as Mao. Ho's Mausoleum was the best looking of the 3 and the guards the snazziest dressed. All in white. There were perhaps not as many guards as at Lenin though.
Uncle Ho looked very peaceful, the best embalmed. He does look a lot like the Colnel (KFC man) but that''s prob blasphemy to say, so if anyone asks I didn't...
We went to the train station on motorbikes, the guy driving me was singing don't worry be happy while running red lights, terrifying. He seemed upset when I told him I didnt want a day long tour on the back of his bike.'The train station had sold out of tickets to Sa Pa for tonight so we went back to the hostel to see if they could find some tickets from somewhere.
It turns out that this weekend is the anniversary of the fall of Saigon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reunification_Day) and also Labor day, so everyone in Vietnam is travelling around, hence tickets being hard to get...
Luckily we had great success!
We now have sleeper train tickets to go to SaPa tonight at 9ish and come back on Friday. In Sa Pa there should be treking etc, though apparently the rain is awful there today, uhoh.
So until then we're going to go see some more sights in drizzly yet very humid Hanoi :)