Hanoi A-hoy!

Trip Start Nov 03, 2008
Trip End Feb 20, 2009

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, January 8, 2009

We took a very, very long night bus from Hoi An on the 7th (we were more fortunate with our seat selection this time and had the entire back 5 seats to ourselves, but we still didn't get much sleep due to the bus lacking any kind of suspension...). The journey was about 24 hours in total, with a few hours stop over in Hue, and it rained most of the time some of you will be glad to hear. In fact, when we arrived in Hanoi the mercury took a dive down to around 14 degrees during the day and less than 10 degrees at night, we even started wearing shoes instead of flip flops and a jacket!
Hanoi is very tiring city, you can't walk along any street or sit in a café near the street without being hassled. One cyclo driver knew enough English to ask us if we wanted a cyclo but clearly he is yet to learn the word 'no' as he asked us about 10 times. The old quarters are full of narrow streets and people selling all kinds of things, but they aren't particularly charming to be honest. The local people don't seem that friendly/welcoming (especially compared to rest of South East Asia) and are very business like (often their business is trying to part you with your money as quickly as possible...). Also, the traffic is truly insane and Luke had his foot run over by a bike (luckily it was a rather small Vietnamese bloke on it)! We decided it would be fun to see what a trip to the cinema would be like and it didn't disappoint. Firstly, as always, the locals just walk in front of you in the queue, then during the film people talk on their phones, to each other and generally make noise (as they are reading the subtitles not listening to the movie!)
One thing we both enjoyed was a trip to see the water puppets. It's pretty hard to explain, but essentially wooden puppets are manoeuvred in a large tank of water (the puppet masters are hidden) and they appear to be moving in/on the water. See the pictures which probably don't do it justice but hopefully give you an idea of the surreal experience.
We got out of Hanoi for a day trip to Halong Bay, which is about 3 hours east of Hanoi. Halong Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a series of thousands of limestone karsts, rock formations and caves emerging from the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. We took a boat around some of the karsts, had lunch on the boat and then ventured into two of the caves. As usual, it's better to see the pictures than read the words!
We left Hanoi on the 12th Jan and were both looking forward to some sun and friendliness in Bali.
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