First 5 days in Vietnam

Ok folks, change of pace for the blog. It’s too much to write 1 post per destination or per day, so I’m going to cut it back to when I can. Probably not more than 4 days if possbile. It’s less to read anyway.

Hanoi

So, I’ve made it to Vietnam! Flew in to Hanoi from Kansai Airport on Tuedsay and got a taxi to the Camellia 4 Hotel in Hanoi. This would be my base for the first 3 days. I think I did OK, seeing as I’m cheapo travelling and have a backpacker budget of $25 USD a night at most:

Oh yeah!! This place is huge! Sat TV, reasonably priced minibar, full bathroom, all the fixings!

Oh yeah!! This place is huge! Sat TV, reasonably priced minibar, full bathroom, all the fixings!

I was knackered so I got some sleep. The next day it was off out to explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The main tourist district and the bit they try to keep traditional. All the streets are named after what is sold on them.

Quite an intense place this

Quite an intense place this

I should watch that movie

I should watch that movie

I headed for the lake to see the the temple on the island and to chill out and get used to the place. Was quite a culture shock after Japan.

Best shot of the day.

Best shot of the day.

I then decided to go to the Military Museum, walking round the Hanoi Citadel on the way. The war museum had lots of shot down/captured American things, plus a few relics from the Vietnamese military!

A MIG-21 - used for some heroic acts, and the flag tower

A MIG-21 - used for some heroic acts, and the flag tower

Wow!

Wow!

Very informative and gives you the perspective from the other side of the war. It’s not just the American war, the French war was covered too, even some Chinese wars.

After that, it was off to Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton from the American war. Originally a French prison, it has mostly been knocked down, but about 1/3rd remains and is used as a museum.

How the prisoners spent thier evenings

How the prisoners spent thier evenings

People liked to escape out of this

People liked to escape out of this

After that I headed back round the Old Quarter for a while, finding a nice Bia Hoi joint to try a glass of fresh daily beer at only 30p a glass!!! Laughing. Was nice too. Very fresh.

I went back to the hotel, sent a few emails then headed out to find some dinner (Squid in Tomato with Rice for 50000 dong), have a few more Bia Hois then ended up in Le Pub, which is sort of an expat/travellers bar recomended by the LP. Had a good evening in there, talked to a few folks etc but not that many were in there in a talking mood. Eventually headed back to the hotel but might have been a bit pickled due to the boose.

The next day was spent mostly researching Ha Long Bay Trips. I trooped around town, even back to Le Pub to find them, but eventually went with the one at my hotel. The rain started coming down big time though so I took cover in yet another Bai Hoi joint!

Damn you, scourge of holidaymakers!

Damn you, scourge of holidaymakers!

Bless you, Bia Hoi, friend of holiday makers

Bless you, Bia Hoi, friend of holiday makers

After some more roaming around and sightseeing, and unsucessful shopping since I’m rubbish at that, I went back to make some more Skype calls home and book the trip to Ha Long. I had a bit of a yearning for Western food so I ended up getting 2 for 1 pizza at Pepperoni’s – a seafood one and a meat feast, very tasty but had to eat it back at the Hotel (was getting a bit sick of the room I’ll admit).

Later, my evening roaming around took me to a few more pubs popular with travellers. The most interesting of which was Legend’s Beer, where it was great to watch Hanoi go by and the insane traffic.

Speaking of that, have a look at this video of me crossing the road…

Anyway, next morning I was up at 7am for the Ha Long Bay trip

Ha Long Bay

After 4 hours on the bus we got on a tender and saw this…

Our boat for the evening!

Our boat for the evening!

From a better angle

From a better angle

It was called the Black Pearl… cue the Pirates of the Carribean Jokes.

All the meals, tours, tickets, Kayaking etc was included!! Laughing! £50 for all this! However, when they say they will feed you they will give you precisely 1 serving etc and its exactly enough for 1 person, no more. Drinks were extra but I smuggled some aboard to drink in my room 😛

Really, Ha Long Bay has to be described visually.

The first island stop

The first island stop

The Caves we toured

The Caves we toured

Me, my face fluff, and the Islands!

Me, my face fluff, and the Islands!

A typical sight

A typical sight

These boats come up alongside and try to sell you snacks etc! I was in my cabin and they tried to sell them through the window!!! Thank god it was closed!

These boats come up alongside and try to sell you snacks etc! I was in my cabin and they tried to sell them through the window!!! Thank god it was closed!

What I don’t have photos of was my ambitious and tiring kayak trip! Everyone else went in pairs, but as I was travelling by myself, I had to go it alone. This ment only one paddle to propell me.

We headed into a lagoon only accessible by kayak, under a low cave (with bats)! Completely quiet and fantastic. However, I had pulled quite a bit of water onto my shorts from the paddle, not making them that comfortable.

On the way back, I realised that everyone else in my group was out of sight (I had been the last to leave anyway). By the time I made it back to the docks, everyone had been there for 20 minutes and were mostly dry! I was bloody soaked!

Dinner onboard was tasty and then we chilled out, drank our $2 beers (extortion!) and chilled on the deck.

Breaky was early then we picked up the group who had stayed on Cat Ba Island (they were on a 2 night trip). We collected some loud as Aussies and Canadians! Everyone who wasn’t a foghorn was shuffling to the other side of the boat. The sun finally came out though!

Me and a little more face fluff

Me and a little more face fluff

After all this was done, it was time to head to Ninh Binh… but not before a refreshing drink!

Snake wine anyone?

Snake wine anyone?

I climbed onto the Tour bus, which then took me to a local bus, which then took me to the main bus. Quite a lot of dong spent but they sorted it all for me!

Ninh Binh

This place is sort of a backpacker’s only stop. You tend to day trip if your in any other category. There are far less touts than Hanoi and less bother when walking the streets. But, there are less amenties too. Not as many bars. I picked Thanhthuy’s Guest House since it’s popular with everyone and has a central courtyard where you can meet folks over dinner. And I did. I got talking to a German Couple who asked if I wanted to go to Tam Coc caves the next day.

So we got some bikes and off we went…

My trusty stead for the day!

My trusty stead for the day!

To quote Clarkson: "I like being lost here"

To quote Clarkson: "I like being lost here"

These guys knew how to cool down!

These guys knew how to cool down!

The boats!

The boats!

This aint a bad spot!

This aint a bad spot!

I see why its the Ha Long Bay of Ninh Binh

I see why its the Ha Long Bay of Ninh Binh

However, after this we had to put the cameras away as the rain started coming down, just in time for the ride home! I’m now sat in the hotel soaking, with no way of drying my clothes!

Tonight its an overnight sleeper bus to Hué! This should be interesting. This is what is promised

Click for the larger version

Click for the larger version

Wish me luck!

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