Hanoi: Bargain Beer

Trip Start Jan 18, 2011
Trip End Dec 01, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We were pretty glad to leave Laos with its horrible roads and poor infrastructure but getting to Hanoi involved a 80, 40 minute flight OR a 30, 30 hour journey. We chose the latter :-/ 

  The worrier and the rock

Surprisingly the journey was ok due to the pretty swish sleeper bus which reclined nearly horizontally. The only problem was the Belgium man who sat next to us. He was like an old woman, every time the bus stopped: "we 'ave a problem! I fink ze tyres are flat!" or at the border crossing "Zere is a problem with your visa (pronounced visor)! You cannot leave Laos!" He was quite funny at first but after 30 hours we were ready to kill him!
Luckily we arrived in Hanoi without committing a homicide and the usual tustle with taxi drivers ensued. The typical scenario: Drivers hope to prey on naive tourists so hang around bus stations and coerce you into their usually shambolic car. We normally try to walk out of the bus station and catch a regular taxi. This time we managed to avoid the schemers and flagged one down but an irate extortionist driver threw a rock at the car in frustration! This is the first time we had seen anyone react like this and was a bit scary.
Hanoi Munch
We took to exploring Hanoi for acouple of days and it's a lovely city. It's a bit more run down than Ho Chi Minh City and the roads are a LOT narrower which makes being a pedestrian pretty risky sometimes! There were also far fewer tourists. We found a cafe with a good vantage point of traffic-look at the video of the loony woman! 

 We ate lots of lovely local food and my favourite was Bun Cha. A big plate of fresh rice noodles (bun), a bowl of green leaves and mint, a fried spring roll plus a small bowl of grilled pork rissoles in sweet fish sauce. You eat this altogether adding fresh garlic and chilli - delicious! On another street corner we found the world's smallest baguette filled with some tasty yet mysterious meat.. hope it wasn't dog! 
Another great thing about Hanoi is Bia Hoi. Fresh beer with no preservatives for approx 18p a glass. We indulged :) This is definitely the cheapest beer on our travels.

I was looking forward to seeing Ho Chi Minh's preserved body as we will hopefully be seeing Lenin's in Moscow in a few months. Alas the mausoleum was closed for body restoration. Instead we visited Uncle Ho's house plus the really wacky Ho Chi Minh Museum. They like to call things after HCM here!
The museum was interesting but pretty strange. Post modern art was used to portray HCM's life including a huge brain to show the cave where he contemplated revolutionising Vietnam, and a huge fruit bowl symbolising I am not sure what. 
After one of our Bia Hoi jaunts we sat at a place by Hanoi's large cathedral and started chatting to a Vietnamese student called Quyet who spoke very good English. We met up with him and his friend Dieu a few days later and we spent a great afternoon with them. It was really nice to talk to some locals and I think they enjoyed practicing their English.
From here to Halong Bay..
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