A Little Hanoi-ed

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
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Trip End Jan 04, 2012


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Where I stayed
What I did
Walked and took in the City

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Awaking to 'Beep Beep, Meeeeeyeeeep', we were once again home. Thank god there is no sanity in Vietnam either. Straight away we got everything booked and paid for our next couple of days so we're not caught out. The hotel lady is more than happy to help, she guides us through the options as she must make a rake on the commission. We book the Perfume Pagoda tour up in the hills, A Halong Bay overnight cruise and we are talked into buying the overnight bus instead of our traditional choice of train as it is cheaper and quote "it's very comfortable". One of these statements would be true in that the bus was indeed cheaper than it's train comparative - however by booking it through the hostel we found we paid a whopping $8 commission on each ticket that should have only cost $17. Still cheaper than the train though.
Stepping out onto the streets with our newly acquired umbrellas (bought as we left Nanning), the hotel lady warned us it might rain. She was right.
 We strolled the streets now comfortable with crossing busy streets teaming with mopeds (2 million in Hanoi). The difference in Hanoi Old Quarter in particular compared to china are that the streets are so narrow that you are only risking your life for a few brief seconds compared to the 20 or so in Shanghai on the wide carriageways. The trick with crossing the roads is to walk at an even pace as the mopeds dodge you and not vice-versa. Essentially close your eyes and think of England.
Around Hoan Kiem lake and into a little temple on the lake. I work out I've been short changed a cool 80 000 Dong by the ticket seller at the entrance. I feel hurt and betrayed by my new beloved Vietnam. How could they? Also, how could I be so stupid not counting the change there and then (one answer to this is that counting change from 5 000 000 Dong involves a lot of notes and quite a bit of time and I was just feeling a little lazy). I was willing to let it slide, but Kate wanted me to fight for the 2.27 GBP that we had lost out on. Betrayed, angry and psyched up I marched with my wad of notes in one hand and my tickets in the other. I would use my new found condescending tone speak of Mike the American to get what I needed.
"I bought Two Ticket - 20 000 Dong (waving the tickets and money)", "You Give Me 400 000 Dong", "You Short 80 000 Dong". I was ready for her response. I wouldn't take no for an answer.

She quickly counted out the money and put it in my hand.

"Oh Thank you very much, wonderful". I quickly reverted to type.

I was surprised and a little delighted. I had fought the Vietnamese guerrillas down on their own turf and won. Not many can say that. She may have been trying it on, or it may have been that there are so many notes to deal with - either way I'd learnt to count my change.

We had some lunch in a pleasant little bar with a couple of cheap beers and then went in search of Ho Chi Minh or his corpse to be exact. His embalmed body is kept in a heavily guarded mausoleum complex which is one of the main tourist draws to Hanoi. Sadly Ho was on his 2 month vacation to his comrades in Moscow to get re-embalmed so we were stuck walking around a museum dedicated to him which was a mixture of artifacts from his rebellious revolutionary life, stock photos, and strange hard to comprehend artistic sculptures depicting periods in Vietnam's colourful history. Politics meets Picasso. I didn't like it, it gave me a headache - but that could have been de-hydration.

A pot noodle dinner (leftovers from China) and 'Knight and Day' on TV, the hotel left a couple of mini cakes in our room with a label 'Wishing you a happy dream'. How very sweet. 
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