We also had had a night on the plastic stools at a Bia Hoi stand. Basically you can get glasses of draft beer on the street for about 12p and you cram in around little plastic tables on little kiddies plastic chairs and chat away to whoever is on your table
. We ended up talking to an Aussie guy who had just sailed from Europe on the Sea Shepherd which is the boat that rams the Japanese whaling fleet. Also a crazy American guy who's opening line to me was "Ask me about the Superbowl" "What about the Superbowl?" "F*ck, that sh*t!". Very sane. Great to be able to get langers on less than £2 each!
On our last night we had a nice experience with some midnight antics from a couple of Americans in the next bunk. Very classy. Thankfully it didn't last long!
All in all we really enjoyed Hanoi and it's a really great city to just wander around. Another one on the maybe come back list.
After our trip to Halong we headed back to Hanoi for a couple of nights before we travelling to Sapa. We dropped in to see the body of Ho Chi Minh which is on show in a massive mausoleum. It's a pretty weird experience. You follow this snaking line of people through the entrance gate and up to the complex. No talking, smiling, cameras, bags or even hands in pockets. Lots of soldiers in full dress gear around making sure you follow the rules. Up some stairs round a corner and then you're in the central room. The room is dimly lit and Ho's body is in a glass case, eerily lit up with four more guards standing around it. You walk slowly round 3 sides and out another door. Very weird. We were in the middle of a bunch of Japanese tourists which meant we missed out on seeing any Vietnamese people crying which apparently happens quite often!