Stop 6

Trip Start Sep 09, 2012
Trip End Feb 02, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, October 4, 2012

We arrived at Hanoi airport without any hitches & were greeted by a man with a sign & our name on it - this was nice considering we were staying in a hostel! The journey was about 40mins which was a lot longer than we thought. We pulled up opposite after going down really small side streets with locals all sat on the streets again most of them cooking! The hostel was fab really modern & busy - it had a good feel to it & we were pleased as it was our first introduction into staying in a dorm room! We were in a 6 person dorm with bunk beds at first which was a bit tight but it was fine. There was a couple of girls there sleeping & another guy who had just checked in - he only stayed one night which we were pleased about as he was a bit weird! We literally put our bags in the lockers under the bed (mine just about fit) then headed out for a wander.
It was late afternoon so we had a few beers as it was happy hour & got some food! The bar filled up in the hostel & it was a really good atmosphere as it felt like a local at home! We stayed up with the crowd an moved into another bar across the road called hair of the dog! We sampled our first cocktail bucket & enjoyed the rest of the night as it reminded us of clubs on holiday in Greece etc! However half way through the night the DJ announced for everyone to head upstairs we didn't take any notice then the police came in & everyone that was left downstairs had to leave. It was ok though as a few of the guys that worked in the hostel advised us that we just needed to go across the road & look as if we were leaving then in 10 mins we were back in! We left not long after this to get our heads down ready for sight seeing the next day.
We went to Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of Hanoi & had a walk over the bridge. The town was easy to get around still busy with mopeds & tuk tuks but we liked it. The streets we crammed with shops mostly doing food & literally the locals were living out of these. We headed to the Hoa Lo Prison Museum & the army museum. The Army Museum was closed Monday's & Fridays so we couldn't get in - yet another thing we had missed from the guide book!
We went back to are hostel & booked a tour for Halong Bay staying 1 night on a boat. This was the next day so we had a early night as we had an early start.
We woke up early & checked out our dorm, it was lucky we could leave our big rucksacks at the hostel so I didn't have the trouble trying to get mine on the boat!! There was loads of people waiting to get picked up as there also was another tour going out that was organised by the hostel. This was pretty much a booze cruise & didn't really see the sights of Halong Bay, it was double the price as well so we decided against this. I was stressing that we had made the wrong decision as it did look a good laugh but it turned out our tour was good. We were taken to the port in a mini bus which was 4 hours away & this was probably one of the most bumpiest journeys ever (we later realised this is the same for all roads in Vietnam & Cambodia!) During the journey the driver did a u- turn in the middle of a duel carriage way to avoid an up coming traffic jam, we were then facing on coming traffic! This was a bit crazy but the tour guide didn't seem phased! When at the port we were taken to our boat via speed boat. We had a young Vietnamese girl who spoke really good English as our guide.
We got on the boat & were allocated a room. It was really nice dark wood everywhere but looked quite luxurious! We had lunch waiting for us which was brought to us like tapas but was a bit backwards as they brought the rice & veg last after u had all the meat/fish. Chris was pleased it wasn't all seafood! During lunch we had begun sailing through the bay. We went to the top decl too to get a better view. The view from the boat was amazing! It was quite misty going through but still really hot. Halong means where the dragon descends into the sea & it is said that his tail is how the landscape was carved. We passed many boats & floating villages & eventually arrived at some limestone caves.
We had a tour through these which was good apart from it being very stuffy & climbing loads of steps! The view again was beautiful & the sun was just starting to set over the bay. Once we had climbed through the caves we got back into the boat to go to a beach for a swim while the sunset. This also was magical, the water was like a bath & watching the sun go down was really relaxing despite there being quite a few people on the beach.
We got back on the boat & ready for our evening meal. This was lovely & really fresh. Again it came in tapas style with a mix of fish & seafood (the prawns were lush!) we shared a table with a Dutch couple & a Korean girl who spoke little English. The following day we went kayaking which was fab - think Chris was worried I wasn't going to be any good but we did ok. The last activity of the tour was learning how to make spring rolls! This was brilliant & it was the traditional Vietnamese version that was done with rice paper! We also got to eat our creations! We got the boat back to the pier & were back in Hanoi for late afternoon.
When we got back to the hostel we re checked in & it was funny we were in a different dorm but with the same two Aussie girls from the previous 6 bed one! There was a roof top BBQ on & free beers so we took advantage of this & relaxed on the roof top terrace until the sun went down listening to chilled out music. We then headed out after this to another club but the hostel wasn't as busy as the first night. The same police scenario happened again but it was twice this time so we decided to call it a day!
We managed to visit the Army Museum on our last day which was good then chilled out in the hostel watching DVDs on beanbags until we had to go for our first bus journey.
We booked a 4 stop open bus ticket so we could travel down the coast rather than straight to Ho Chi Min which we were both made up we did!
The bus was a sleeper which it needed to be as it was 14 hours to the next stop. When we got to the bus station we were pleasantly surprised that the seats were almost like bunk beds but fully reclined! It was still a bit cramped for Chris but miles better than we thought!?
Next stop Hue.
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