Good Morning Vietnam
Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
144Trip End Mar 16, 2011
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22 MARCH 2010 - The hostess says "Welcome to Hanoi", Mary had tears in her eyes and I thought I was going to ball my eyes out but I was close and Troy and I threw our arms up in the air and we yell out Yeahhhhh!
Our luggage took ages to arrive and for a moment we thought we weren't going to get Troy's backpack. We got our bags and then was picked up by a Vietnamese guy that couldn't speak English. No worries - he was fine. Off we go, I couldn't believe we were here. The drive from airport to Hanoi city was quite a long drive, crazy drivers and no road rules and so many times we nearly hit another car or scooter. Troy says "I am a happy boy", he loves Asia.
One word to describe Hanoi..... CRAZY!
My first impression of Hanoi was its looks so much like a European city with lots of old colonial tall skinny apartments but just a lot lot older and run down, it was once a French colony
We checked into our accommodation, the Hanoi Guesthouse, its fine and its in the Old Quarter, the place to be. It's it a great location and the staff are very friendly and very helpful. Miss Chau is the sweetest girl you could ask for, she is very friendly and helpful. Her name is pronounced "ciao" and she knows that her name means hello and goodbye so she reckons she could never get a boyfriend. We lugged our stuff into room 302 on 3rd floor. Our room was basic but great, air con and the best comfortable bed and pillows, it was heaven and only for US$18 per night. The bathroom is tiny, the toilet, shower and basin in one tiny room and when you have a shower everything else gets wet. We could sit on the loo and brush our teeth over the sink and have a shower all at the same time, now thats funny! Hey the shower is great so its all so good! After checking in and having a shower we explored the city on foot. Mary couldn't believe just how many Vespas there are here (majority 125cc's). I thought how can a local afford it, I was told for 1 vespa you can buy 5 cheaper scooters but they were everywhere so people who buy a Vespa are rich. As we were walking the streets dodging the millions of scooters I thought this place it reminds me of walking the streets of Palermo only here its on stereoids and a lot older and hectic. This place is fantastic for people watching, if you ever get bored people watching here then there would be something really wrong with you. This place is just so interesting from checking out how locals live their lives each day from zipping in and out with scooters, beeping like crazy at nothing to watching them cook their food on the streets, chopping meat, chicken, fish on the streets and some in gutters to getting hassled by tuk tuk drivers wanting you to catch a ride. This place doesn't stop, they are like "ants on scooters" heading in million directions
We had dinner at Little Hanoi where the food was good. Mary didn't like the spring rolls but everything else was fine and plenty of it and cheap which is great for us. We came back to our room and I chilled out. Troy read me a few lines out of the Lonely planet guide and before I knew it I fell asleep. It was incredible, I fell asleep so quick, the quickest ever in my entire life. I still cannot believe how quick it was and Troy was quite impressed too.
23 MARCH 2010 - Our first morning we wake up and Troy says "Good Morning Vietnam". We had breakfast, Troy had Pho Ga (traditional chicken soup) and Mary had huge bread roll with jam. We went out to explore the street life and headed for Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum complex where we lined up for sometime, the queue was very long. We went through been very quiet (not too excited seeing a dead man). We then headed to the Presidential Palace, Stilt House, One Pillar Pagoda, Lenin's Park, Hanoi Flag Tower and then had lunch at a nice cafe in a lovely courtyard. We then headed to the Temple of Literature where we saw some lovely temples and statues. The kids here were so friendly and saying hello so Mary took a photo of them and they were so excited and saying thank you, thank you. We went across the road and found a lovely park where we found men playing cards and ladies doing their gardening and some people doing exercises. We spent a lot of the day walking the streets of Hanoi. One funny thing that happened - a young "shoe shine" boy comes up to Troy with a big smile and says Hello. His face changed as he looks down at Troy's feet and sees he is wearing sandals. Then he takes off, we killed ourselves laughing, poor bugger he didn't get far with us
We headed down to the Hoan Kiem Lake and walked around checking the place out taking heaps of photos, a gorgeous temple in the middle of the lake was cute, we were watching a lady mediating, blind people selling souvenirs and just watching people was fun.
We then headed to see the Water Puppets at the theatre. Now we were told it was crap but we thought it was rather good and better than we expected. They were well done and funny.
We headed back to our room and crashed again.
24 MARCH 2010 - We have booked our trips to Halong Bay and to Sa Pa and got our open bus tickets. Now we are heading off for another full action packed down in quiet, peaceful Hanoi (NOT). We walked around the city and did more people watching, this place is just so CRAZY. Everything possible is here. When you come across a shoe shop its just not one but a street of shoe shops and when you find a gold shop its not one, more like a street of them and so on. The ladies that walk around with their baskets on a pole well they are just a bit too pushy when it comes to wanting your dong ($$) and some just shove it on your shoulder without you wanting to and some are just too in your face. For a photo a kid got charged 50,000 dong - bit steep I think. We headed back to our room to chill out and catch up on diaries and watch a few DVD's that Troy bought such as - Bruno, My life in Ruins, Love Happens, Sherlock Holmes, Invictus, Baraka all for about $7
We had dinner at a cafe tonight amongst all the locals and yeah it was an experience. The chairs were tiny and very low so trying to sit on them was fun (NOT). How these Vietnamese crouch down all time I just don't know, if it was me I would just fall on my arse all the time. We had a very eager waiter that wanted my anklet for some reason. He also kept wanting a tip of 10,000 dong but Troy just gave him 2,000 he was just too pushy. We had a lovely dinner of stir fried tofu, broccoli and mushroom veges and spring rolls, a beer and soft drink all for about $6, cool hey! probably expensive for Vietnamese standards.
Tomorrow we head off to Halong Bay, so looking forward to it.