Trip Start Oct 23, 2012
Trip End Feb 08, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, October 26, 2012

After a short flight from Bangkok, we arrived at Hanoi airport at about 9am. It was already about 32 degrees!

We caught a minibus into the city centre, on the way passing a row of whole barbecued dogs. We had to jump off the bus at what looked like the busiest crossroads I've ever seen, it was basically two motorways crossing each other with no traffic lights and no road markings, and unfortunately we were the exact opposite side from where we had to be.

There are no (acknowledged) crossings or stop signs in Hanoi so the only way to cross is to look straight ahead and move at a steady pace across the street. The stream of traffic will dodge you as long as you don't make any sudden movements, and if you stop moving YOU WILL DIE!! In 2010 thirty six people died every day in road accidents in Hanoi!

After walking/sweating/avoiding accidents for a bit we found our first guest house. It's a well known fact that if you're using a lonely planet guide (like I am) don't go on their hotel recommendations. They're normally too lazy to find the best deals around (why would you when you have paid expenses?) and I reckon they probably google 'cheap hotels in ....', write the results down in their guide notes and then go enjoy a nice G&T at their hotels swim up bar while they wait for their commission to roll in.

As I'm neither privately educated or a forty year old in a linen shirt I don't qualify for a Lonely Planet expenses account so I had to do a bit of searching for my room. After the hell holes I stayed in in Brazil I was amazed to find a nice room with air con/satellite TV for a bargain $5pp. Unlike in Brazil, this shower didn't even electrocute me once, and if I took the shower head off the wall and held it at about shin height, after only twenty minutes I could generate enough cold water to wash my privates and one armpit. Cash back!!

The next day we had a look round a few of Hanoi's sights, including the big lake, Hoa Lo prison, and two guys murdering a turtle with a machete.

Don't bother going to Hoa Lo prison (or actually most of Vietnam) if you're American, it will just make you feel like an arsehole.

Hanoi was a beautiful place to start our Asian trip, and only a few hours from our next stop, Halong Bay.
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