Erica fancy a dog BBQ, Erica, Erica.... Erica?

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  , Ha Nội,
Sunday, June 20, 2010

We arrived at about 7am in Hanoi the capital of Vietnam and oddly saw a man with a piece of paper with our names on it. We grabbed the bags and again he tried to speak to me, in the kind of mood only a bus insomniac can understand I let Erica speak to him. The guy who had owned the hotel in Hue had asked if we would look around his brothers place, no commitment '24 hour power etc, it turned out to be his brother who had obviously been in touch to let him know of weary confused travellers. At a price of 12 dollars per night if it was as good as the place in Hue i.e. with a bath and wireless and everything we would be happy. We spent about 10 minutes saying we couldn't afford $12 and could only look if it was 10, finally we caved in as we had no where else to go that would not charge us another night. We got showed to reception and told they would included breakfast however I then tried fluttering my eyelids at the hotel receptionist who said she would throw in another breako to eat now and the room would be ready in 20 minutes, who said that the way to a mans heart was through his stomach?

In reception a big argument kicked off between an Isreali guy and the owner which nearly came to blows and someone else arguing saying how bad the hotel was. It isn't great certainly not as good as Hue but still it is nowhere near the worst we have had.

Our whirlwind trip through Vietnam continues and we booked to go to Halong Bay tomorrow staying there overnight before heading off to Sapa in the North East hills the day after before heading on to Laos. We have opted to not take the 24 hour bus journey  to Laos (not a sleeper bus) which we have not managed to find a review that did not contain the word 'hell'. So we are splashing out again and are thinking of booking a flight out of here the morning we get back from Sapa (our train arrives at 4am in the morning and we fly at 9am), at least we get to try another class airline that is banned from flying to the EU because of its safety record (Laos Airlines). So the next few days are likely to be e-mail less and wifi-less so keep up your comments on the blog.

Anyway back to today, after sorting out our plans for the next few days we find this is our only day to explore Hanoi. We walked out of the Booking Office round the corner and immediately saw a woman barbequeing a dog. It looked a bit like a terrier and as I got the camera out saw Erica running away ready to be sick, I on the other hand saw the woman starting to get up as I unleashed my camera so opted to ask her if I could take a picture, to say it was clear the lady didn't want me to photograph her dog was an understatement and a huge amount of handwaving pushing and practically slapping took place. Lets confirm once and for all I can't see Erica trying a dog BBQ in a hurry (then again in the Sapa area once food is cooked they are known to pour pigs blood over the food, you know a bit like we might use coriander. They also eat a lot of dog.)

We firstly spent about an hour walking through the Old Quarter. These are some of the few preserved streets in Vietnam of how the place used to look. The streets are much narrower and a lot more Bia Hoi and crack bongs knocking about. No real shock factor though it still felt much the same as elsewhere in Vietnam. We then went accross to the French Quarter, with wide treelined boulevards and French architecture, we also passsed by the Jail used by the French to torture the Vietnamese and consequently as a prisoner of war camp for captured Americans. We then completed Chris and Sarah's task of finding the weasel poo coffee allthough I had to pay 2 pounds for a cup. We could not communicate though so I had to draw another typical Stephenson diagram to explain what I wanted. The coffee was hardcore though and I think I was ready to wretch after drinking it, it was so thick all my throat was lined with it, oh and perhaps the thought that someone had collected it out of a pile of shit maybe a few hours before (see picture for the diagram).

We then did a full lap of the lake and took in the remainder if the important sights of Hanoi although we had missed Ho's mausoleum which had closed by the afternoon. The rain never came and it continues to be very humid, another early start tomorrow so I will catch a few Bia Hoi's then an early night. Despite the speed at which we have done Vietnam I think after Ha-Long Bay and Sapa we will definitely feel ready to move on again, but please dont take that as we haven't enjoyed Vietnam we have but so far Ho Chi Minh / Saigon sits at the top of the class closely followed by the Mekong Delta.

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