Goodbye Laos; hello Vietnam!

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Jul 23, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  , Hanoi,
Friday, February 8, 2013

We got up early, packed then walked to our favourite cafe for breakfast. On the way we saw a little Jack Russell in a dress, she was so friendly. We have noticed that a lot of the dogs wear clothes in SE Asia and keep meaning to find out why. At 'My Mum Home' in Chiang Mai, the old mongrel who belonged to the Hotel owner always wore a T Shirt.

We took a front seat in the cafe, almost on the pavement, so were subject to beggars who stand in front of you holding their hands out, not very nice and difficult not to give something. At one point one of the waiters walked down and 'shooed' a man away - bad for business I expect.
We had a huge breakfast of fresh fruit ( complimentary), eggs, chips (!) and a baguette ( French influence) also coffee and juice. After breakfast we took a slow walk back to the Hotel.

The owner, Carmela, had arranged transport to the airport for us. We thanked him for his hospitality and said that we would put a good review of his Hotel, Inthasak, on Trip Adviser. I would have liked to have taken a photo of Carmela, as he looked remarkably like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. I wonder if anybody else had noticed that or whether it was just me.

The Tuk Tuk took (!) us to the Airport at around midday. Our flight was not until 17:10 but we thought we would find something to do; maybe catch up with writing the blog. When we got into the Terminal ; there was nothing to do, not even a Cafe, so we wandered over the road to a Cafe which advertised Wifi thinking we would at least be able to publish the blog, unfortunately, the Wifi didn't work, so we just sat for a couple of hours over a milk shake.

We checked in at around 15:00 and wandered through to the Departure lounge thinking that their might be something to do or see - wrong. A further two hours of boredom.

The flight to Hanoi was good, once again the hostess managed to serve 100 people with a drink and small snack within the one hour duration of the flight. Terry thought, as the flight was with Lao Airlines, we would have the same snack as en route to Luang Prabang but no, this time we had a finger roll filled with shredded carrot, mayonnaise and something (?), two plain profiteroles the size of the tip of your thumb and a can of Beer Lao.

On arrival at Hanoi airport we were two of the few on the flight who were able to go straight through customs, as had arranged a Visa in the UK. We were met by a taxi who drove us straight to The Rising Dragon Villa Hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

This drive was our first experience of the roads in Hanoi which I can only describe as mental. OK, so they drive on the right which can be slightly disorientating, but there just does not seem to be any road etiquette at all. 'Giving Way' seems to be unheard of, nobody stops on Zebra crossings and there seems to be a whole language hidden in 'hooting'. Intersections are negotiated seemingly in random fashion with no rules or lights.

On arrival at our Hotel we unpacked a few things and set out for something to eat. We walked around our block, but with the rain hammering down and neon lights flashing from high and low, we felt like we were in a scene from Blade Runner. We noted many motorcycles with trees
loaded with blossom or fruit tied to the back, some so big you could hardly see the driver. My first impressions of Hanoi were not good, the streets seemed littered with all sorts of debris, motorcycles parked on the pavements in random fashion, which meant we had to walk on the road. Trying to navigate between this as a pedestrian takes some nerve, but somehow everyone gets through unscathed, but with plenty of hooting.

After doing a quick tour of the block, we couldn't find anywhere that looked nice enough to eat, apart from a little restaurant opposite us. Playing safe, Terry ordered Spring Rolls and I ordered Fried Beef with Noodles. Terry got his Spring Rolls but I had got some cloudy looking Noodle Soup, which actually tasted OK. I'm not even sure I didn't order it.

We went back to our lovely Hotel for a shower and an early(ish) night in our bed which promised to be the most comfortable since arriving in South East Asia,
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