Hanoi and Halong Bay
Trip Start Apr 15, 2012
24Trip End Jun 06, 2012
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Where I stayed
Old City Centre Hotel
In Hanoi on Ho Chi Minh's birthday--visited museum/mauseleum but mauseleum was closed. Stayed on Hang Hanh--took a taxi with an accellerated meter, jumped out when it became clear.
Stayed at Old City Centre Hotel. Not recommended--pushy on tours--they booked boat to Cat Ba Island, said there was one stop to explore caves and the boat would arrive 3 hours from departure. Three stops--two commercial enterprises where the crew has a $$$ stake where the crews of various boats tied up and played cards for an aggregate of two hours.
Got to Cat Ba 6 hours after departure, got a terrific value family hotel (Yen Thanh) with a seaview balcony for $17
Cat Ba is stunningly beautiful, but with the exception of the Yen Thanh, the encountered businesses do not ascibe to the business ethics of the Dixie Pig. A couple of examples:
1. "Do you do laundry here? How Much?" "Yes , 25,000 dong per kilo". OK, I give him the laundrry to weigh. He does not weigh. I ask him to weigh. He holds it up and says "7 kilos". I ask where is his scale, he points to his arm. I take the laundry, he wants to bargain price. Next place 30,000, weighs it---4 kilos.
2. Pho (chicken noodle soup) is always 25,000 or 30,000. Everywhere in VN, except in Cat Ba if you don't ask the price first--in this one case, where they charged 50,000.
3. Bia hoi (fresh beer) is draft beer made daily with no preservatives and that not sold is thrown out. Small glasses are 3000-5000 everywhere, except in Cat Ba if you don't ask first, in this case 12,000.
So while WM loves the stunning beauty of this place, he does not care for the people. They are so unlike the rest of the Vietnamese people met so far.
Taking the ferry to Haiphong Harbor . Don't tell Kissinger.