Finally! Have Everything I Need to Move On

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Star Old Quarter Hotel
Hanoi Rendezvous Hotel
Overnight Bus to Laos

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 0 – Transit
Basically spent a day on the train reading, staring out the window, watching a video and processeding photos. While the plug in the cabin I was in didnt work I was lucky enough to find one out near the wash basin so I could use the laptop most of the day.

Also lucky we had one stop where I could buy some food from the platform. As always the train had hot water and I managed to score some noodle bowls at a reasonable price to have for dinner.

For the most part travelled along the coast or past rice paddies on the trip. At one point we did though travel through some mountains (assuming marble) and it seemed like a nice place to hike.

Not the most exciting way to spend my birthday but I really did want to sort my passport and visa out as soon as possible. Original plan had been to spend 4-5 weeks in Vietnam in two blocks. That is northern vietnam, Loas, southern vietnam then cambodia.

Unfortunately the lost passport changed all that and with the high turnaround times getting things done and 2 letters lost in the post ended up being in vietnam 5 weeks longer than expected. Also in some ways I did less than I might have in 4 weeks since over 4 weeks of that time was spent in Hanoi waiting on things.

Day 1 - Picking up my passport and Applying for my Visa
Arrived at 6am in Hanoi and since the place I normally stayed at didnt have a free bed I tried my second option. Unfortunately it was closed (and looked under renovation) so since it was to early to find a bed just sat outside waiting for the time to pass. Seems the place next door to my second option was also a hotel and at $8 a room it would be hard to find something cheaper. Room was a bit musty and the bed a bit hard but would do for a couple of nights.

Still to early to collect my passport so killed a couple of hours in the room. Headed out for a Pho Bo breakfast and the went to the embassy where I got my brand new passport. From here headed to immigration but just missed out on getting a queueing ticket so had a couple of hours to kill walking the streets until the place would be open again.

Upon getting back found that I had a extra 30min wait since the guy at the counter decided to show up late. Got the form, filled it out and after a couple of adjustments was told that I could pick it up on the Friday. Provided I didnt have any unexpected problems due to my original visa being a 3 month business (rather than 1 month tourist). Should be able to get out of the country by the weekend and finally continue onto Laos.

Original plan was to do northern Vietnam, Loas, the rest of Vietnam then onto Cambodia. Will now have to look at either flying into Cambodia or getting a new visa for vietnam. Guess it will all depend on cost.

Given my passport was processed 5 days earlier than expected was also wandering if I would be stuck waiting for the new credit card I had ordered. Given the one I have doesnt have a pin it would be nice to get the new one before I go. Basically means I would be stuck waiting around or would need the hotel to forward it for me. Thankfully had some good news in relation to these matters and found that the card had already arrived in Hanoi.

All thats left for me to be free and clear is to get my passport back with my new visa in it.

Didnt do much else that afternoon but since it was Tuesday decided to head out and do another one of the wing Chun Classes I had done earlier. Given Im back in hanoi early I have way to much money on me. Had taken out lots since I couldnt use my existing card at a bank without a passport and didnt want to run out of cash.

Hopefully can exchange it for US$ at not to bad a rate somewhere in town else I go on a shopping spree. Need a new pair of shoes anyways since the one I have are tearing. Maybe time to post something home as well even though I dont really need to.

Day 2 – Not much Yoga
Did very little today. Processed some photos, read some online managa and wandered around the streets around lunch and dinner time. Very quite day mostly on the laptop or repacking. Also finally booked the Gibbon Experience which I had originally planned to do on my birthday. A month late but oh well, better late than never.

One thing I found I did need to do though was change some cash. Had originally budgeted for two weeks (waiting for passport) without access to an ATM and so had way to much cash. Changing it was harder than expected. Unlike Ho Chi Minh City which had money changers that had boards showing their rates outside the shop no such places existed in Hanoi. Tried one exchange place (tour agent) but was told that he only bought and didnt sell US dollars.

When I asked about buying though he did point me to a place where I could buy some US cash. Unfortunatley while I knew what street it was on I had no idea how to find it since it had no sign and he didnt describe the shop at all. In the end had to give up and hope I might have better luck the following day.

Since I had been doing nothing all day and wasnt to sore from the previous days training I decided to spend some excess (vietnamese) cash and do another yoga class. Enjoyed the class once again with the focus of this class being standing strength and hip openers.

Day 3 – Temple of Liturature
Once again decided to do something today with the only thing really left for me to visit in Hanoi (besides more museums) being the Temple of Literature. Before heading out though I did ask about buying US Dollars and was pointed to the same same street but with a decent description of the store. Ie near start of street, has cabinet, sells gold.

Headed out but at first walked past it. Definately nothing to distinguish it as a place that changes cash. Luckily had an idea where the store was on teh street and with the description headed back towards it. Changed some cash but left enough at this point in case I needed any extra when collecting my passport with the visa.

Caught a bike to the temple of liturature which I wandered around for an hour or so. Interesting and peaceful enough chinese (onfusish) temple. Also found it to have lots of local in traditional dress or suites. Given the age would guess that at least some of them were out on a school excursion.

Walked back to the old quarter with a stop at a cafe to watch the streets for a bit and use the laptop. Continued on through an interesting street market before visiting a cheap restuarant I had found weeks ago for a cheap and good lunch.

Pretty much didnt do anything for the rest of day besides looking into flights and starting to think about what I wanted and had time to do in the last part this trip. With over a month gone will have to cut something even if I push it to the max and dont come home til February.

Day 4 – Passport Pickup
Woke up and definately was feeling less sore this time round after doing some training compared to how I felt after doing the wing chun a couple of weeks ago.

Wandered downstairs for breakfast and to kill some time before heading out to pick my passport up, with the new visa. Was just hoping at this point nothing unexpected was going to happen (due to old one being business visa). Thankfully all good and managed to get my passport back with no problems. Yah. Travel documents finally in a state where I can get out of the country.

From the immigration office caught a moto back to the old quarter where I grabbed lunch and went to spend some money. In Indonesia one of my shoes had split and since I have been wearing thongs hadnt worried to much about it. Found an outdoor shop near the hostel so decided to get rid of some excess money by buying a new pair. Even after that still had to much cash so went to change a little bit more and just kept enough to get my by or the rest of the day.

Killed the rest of the day in the hostel waiting for my ride to the sleeper bus that would take me to Laos. Had an uncomfortable ride standing in an overloaded mini bus to the sleeper bus which was the same type as I had had coming back from Sapa. Was in the back at first (where seats not as comfortable) but at least I didnt have anyone sitting next to me for most of the night.

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