Bollie over Broome

Trip Start Feb 13, 2011
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, February 13, 2011

After a long count down since Julie decided that she wanted to go away to celebrate her 60th Birthday the day arrived. Up early, breakfast of scambled eggs with smoked salmon, finish packing then off to the airport to wait for the boarding call of Singapore Airlines flight 282.

We settled in, took off, and were soon sipping on a Singapore Sling to get us in the mood, not that we needed it. Lunch was served, smoked salmon with pasta salad followed by Red Pork Curry and it was as good as you would get anywhere, washed down with a nice crisp Riesling and a good French Cab Sav. How good is this and we are only in Cattle Class what are those bastards up front having, who cares it's only 7 hours, have another glass of red with a Peters Drumstick for Dessert.

Sit back, watch a movie, fall asleep (after all it is Sunday afternoon) when we get woken up by a steward with a silver tray with two glasses of Bollinger, a bowl that has dry ice smoking and a birthday card signed by all the crew including the Capitan which was a very nice touch. Thanks to a tail wind we landed 45 minutes early, straight through immigration and customs and check into our hotel (Crowne Plaza Changi Airport), from the plane to your hotel room in 20 minutes.

Our room is very new and very funky. we are on the 8th floor and look out over Terminal 2 and the runway, soundproofing is very good and you can just hear the aircraft taking off. We discover another surprise in a plate with fruit and a chocolate dessert and "Happy 60th Birthday" written in chocolate waiting for us.

We soon decide that Singapore awaits and we catch the MRT into the City to enjoy the last night of the Hungboa Festival down at the Bay area which is now dominated by the brand new Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino. It is a magnificent structure that is ablaze with spotlights shining into the sky. There is not much happening and they have a feeble attempt at fireworks that lasted less than a minute and we soon start to feel our age and decide to head on back to Changi.

Up early to check out and catch our flight to Hanoi, breakfast in Airport (average and expensive) so we indulge in a little retail therapy while we wait for our flight. This soon turns into a distraction and we have to run (well fast walk) to our boarding gate. Average flight to Hanoi, Singapore girls not up to their best service, but it was only 3 hours and soon forgotten and forgiven.

Clear Immigration and Customs and soon get hassled by Taxi touts looking for dumb tourists to fleece, we keep walking to taxi rank and catch a respectable cab and tell him to put the meter on and take us to Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, no worries. Airport is 30kms out and charge is calculated by the Km travelled, what could go wrong. First up he takes to wrong hotel, Sofitel Plaza and then feins ignorance. He soon regains his memory and we head into the city but pulls up about 500m from hotel and asks for money, he wants US$50 but meter shows we have done 30km @9000 dong/km, my calcualtion is US$15 or 270,000 dong. I tell him no money until we get to hotel so he eventually gets moving again and we arrive at the right hotel where we are rescued by hotel porters, I give him 300,000dong and send him on his way. Welcome to Hanoi.

The hotel dates back to 1901 when the French controlled Hanoi and had a big influence on the architecture and style all the staff welcome you in french and not much has changed inside and it is like stepping back in time in a black and white movie.  We are welcomed with open arms and are upgraded to a suite with a bunch of roses (email worked again) which is just fantastic and very comfortable. The hotel is very big on history and everywhere it has references to many of the famous guests that have stayed, for instance Brad & Angelina stayed here recently so they have name the Italian Restaurant "Angelinas". After a welcome drink to wash down the dust we head off out to the streets to explore the neighbourhood which is eclectic mixture of flash new fashion shops to daggy residential buildings that would normally be condemned.

There are thousands of motorbikes and scooters and the only road rule is survival, so crossing roads is exciting, basic rule is be brave and don't stop, they will avoid you. We help out a few street vendors by buying postcards and the obligatory "Good morning Vietnam" t-shirt and get an offer from a cylo rider for a 30 min ride around the French Quarter. This guy has no fear and takes on all traffic at intersections crossing against the lights, but we make it back in one piece, he is stuffed and reckons that the fee should be calculated by kilogram of the passenger not by the distance, nice try. We get back to our room for a rest and there is a knock at the door which turns out to be one of the Hotel girls with a birthday cake and card for Mr Huppatz, we soon fix this with a black pen and changed it to Mrs.

Today is Valentines Day, so we decide to choose a restaurant inside the hotel to dine. The Vietnamese, Spices Garden has the best deal and has a table available. Only US$65 per head for special menu which inludes Spa discount voucher and a long stemmed red rose. On the table are rose petals in the shape of a heart and our special menu, Scallop and Sea Urchin Soup, Stuffed Crab Claw, Oven Grilled Lobster (Morten Bay Bug Tail), Roasted Wagu Beef with Grilled Foie Gras and a dessert of Fruit Mousse in a heart shape. It was all magnificent which required another walk around the block afterwards.

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Billie on

what a great birthday!

Judy on

What a wonderful birthday.

Chris R on

What a wonderful birthday Julie, I am so happy that you are enjoying this trip!!

Yo-Yo on

Glad to see and hear that you are keeping up to your usual standards of good food and drinks Richard! Julie will have to have more birthdays in future so that you can maintain the standard.

tige & pars on

enjoyed the blog. good to see you are having a good time

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