Crazy trip to Hanoi

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Feb 16, 2006

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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

This episode is not so much about a place, but our trip from Phi Phi to Hanoi was crazy enough to deserve its own episode.

So on the morning of the third of January we got up and packed our stuff. Our post-NYE headache was finally gone. At 1 pm we took a longtail boat to go from our little beach to the main beach where the ferry was leaving. At 2 pm we were on the ferry to Krabi. At first the weather was nice but then big clouds came rolling in. It started raining really hard (Paul, I still have a Mai Thai waiting for me...) and everybody who was on the deck had to croud into the little cabin. Quite cozy.

After 2 hours we finally arrived in Krabi. They first piled us into a minibus that took us to a first tourist office. Then everybody was reshuffled according to destination and piled into a second bus. One hour into the trip, same thing again: we stopped somewhere and got yet reshuffled into another bus. This time we were rolling, or so we thought. Around midnight the bus stopped once more. We thought it was again time to shop at their friend's souvenir store but we soon realized that the bus had actually broken down. They were working on the fan belts, first alone, then with Guido and Seth's help. But there was just no progress. We were starting to get anxious because our plane was leaving at 10:20 am from Bangkok to Hanoi and we were not going to make it. We devised the different options we had and started trying to stop cars and buses and convince them to take us with them. But apparently we were not really convincing. It finally came to the point where the spare bus was going to arrive anyway so we just waited a bit more. Around 1:30am the second bus finally arrived and we could continue our journey. Around 8:30am we finally arrived in Bangkok but it is a long way from Koh San Road to the airport. We jumped on a taxi and made him understand with a lot of sign language that our plane was leaving and that he should break the Bangkok taxi speed limit. We were lucky that he was pretty cooperative and we made it to the airport in record time. We checked in and thought we could finally relax but that was before we saw the line at the immigration desk. Since it was a big travelling day it was taking forever. We quickly realized that if we patiently waited in line we would never make it. So we tried to talk to people in front and begged them to let us go ahead. There were some idiots like the old Russian guy and his mailorder bride who simply told us that "they couldn't help us" (duh), or the guy who actually got mad saying there were no traffic jams this morning (that's not what we said, duh). Finally some reluctant people let us go ahead and we ran to our plane. We made it with 3 minutes to spare. Quite a miracle!

So here we are flying towards Vietnam. One more adventure!

When we arrived we took a cab to the hotels along Hoan Kiem Lake where all the backpakers are staying. Our hotel was on a tiny street and the cab driver got lost several times. We settled in and decided to leave the next day right away to Halong Bay to take advantage of the "good" weather. That's another episode, but I'll also tell about our stay in Hanoi when we came back after Halong Bay.
That night we decided to meet up with Cyrille, Paul's friend from France who now lives in Hanoi. We decided to go out and first had dinner in a little restaurant where they would just not understand what we were ordering. Another case where you eat whatever comes on the table. Then we went out to a disco where go go girls were dancing on a stage. We stayed for a while but unfortunately it already closed at midnight. In the meantime Paul had been chatting with two of the bargirls and we met them outside. We convinced them to go out with us and they took us to another club open later.
It was a big, almost all Vietnamese club, and we once again stood out. We ordered another bottle of Vodka and by that time we were all pretty drunk. We were dancing a lot. Debbie was meeting a lot of people by systematically asking them for a bite from their fruit platter. Most people were nice but we had a few bad experience with Debbie being cornered in the bathroom by a guy, Guido being singled out by guys on the dancefloor, and mostly Seth who got attacked by an angry security guard who decided that Seth and Maitland were having too much fun dancing together. It left a bloody mark on his arm and a sour aftertaste in our mouths, but we won't take over a whole staff of security guards who have decided that they don't like us. Too bad because otherwise it was fun.

Next morning we took the plane to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) with a headache.
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