...and a few bits inbetween
21.11.2011 - 27.12.2011
Despite hearing mixed reports about Hanoi I really liked the place, it's a crazy bustling city with ridiculous traffic where you practically risk your life every time you attempt to cross the road, but it's probably one of my favourite cities so far. We were staying in a really cute little hostel (May de Ville) just around the corner from Hanoi Backpackers and after meeting our friends from the bus for breakfast we all booked ourselves onto the Hanoi Backpackers trip to Halong Bay giving ourselves a few days first to check out Hanoi... I'd heard a few stories about this trip and it certainly wasn't cheap but definitely sounded like the most fun boat to go on... we hung out for the rest of the day in the Hanoi Backpackers and had a walk around the area. Soon discovered the 25p a beer bars just around the corner, I don't even really like beer but for 25p you can't go wrong! We ended up that night in a club called Amazon which again got shut down pretty early - this time the police actually came in and pretty much stood there, tazers in hand and watched as we all piled out.
The next day we joined the Hanoi Backpackers free walking tour of the Old Quarter which was actually really good and definitely worth doing - especially since it's free! We decided to keep it cultural that day and so after lunch jumped in a taxi and went to check out the Hanoi Prison Museum (worth a visit) and the Vietnam History Museum (pretty dull). We walked back through rush hour traffic to the hostel which was an experience in itself with scooters coming at you while on the pavement! Had to take refuge in Fanny's ice cream shop along the way to give ourselves a breather and have an ice cream of course since we were there. Pub quiz that evening at the Hanoi Backpackers, unfortunately our team - the Cilla Black's didn't win, but was a good night and after a few more beers at the 25p bar round the corner we went home early to sort our stuff out for Halong Bay trip tomorrow.
Unfortunately the next day there was a bit of a cock up with our trip to Halong Bay and turned out we weren't going to be able to go until tomorrow, bit annoying but more so for Kayleigh and Shannon as they were pressed for time to get through Vietnam before their flight to Oz. We managed to get a few free lunches out of it though and 20% off the cost of our trip so we piped down after that and enjoyed our free lunch We made the most of our extra day in Hanoi and went and checked out the war museum, had a walk around the lake and booked ourselves in to see a water puppet show that evening. We had the most amazing meal that evening on the street which was basically like a DIY bbq, and then went and saw the water puppet show which was very different (still not sure how they do it) and apparently Hanoi is the best to see it in Vietnam!
No mess ups the next morning with our boat trip so after 4 hours on a mini bus (not the most comfortable journey) we made it to the port at Halong Bay and got on the Jolly Roger, we were only met to spend one night in Haong Bay but decided to extend it to 2 that evening and definitely glad that we did. Halong Bay was amazing, we spent the first evening on the boat, and the second on a private island like something straight out of the movie The Beach, sleeping in bamboo huts, going tubing (I managed to give Kayleigh a black eye with my elbow at some point), drinks on the beach... unfortunately I caught some nasty bug on the 2nd day so wasn't feeling too hot that evening on the island or on the boat trip back, but despite the illness it was an amazing trip, definitely a bit of a booze cruise if you're thinking of going but worth the money and I would recommend it to anyone!!
I was meant to be heading to Sapa the evening we got back from Halong Bay but was still feeling a bit under the weather so cancelled my trip (still kicking myself for not going) and decided to head south with Kayleigh and Shannon the next day for Hue. Our bus wasn't until 6pm - another night bus - so we got a bit of shopping in during the day and chilled out (recovery time from Halong Bay!) Sadly in Hue I was going to have to say goodbye to Shannon and Kayleigh as they were headed straight onto Hoi An It was an amazing week in and around Hanoi but the rest of Vietnam is still to come and I was beginning to be aware of time passing rather too quickly...