Hustlers in Hanoi
Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
360Trip End Aug 21, 2011
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Where I stayed
Queen of Hearts Hotel
The previous night we had not found any restaurants, the whole town being full of mobile phone and wedding dress shops and so had made so with pot noodles, popcorn and crisps. Breakfast was similarly unforthcoming and we had to wait until we found a tiny shack 2 miles down the road. A happy lady there had cans of cold coffee, juice and hard boiled eggs to be eaten with chilli salt – excellent breakfast, we wolfed down two each. We then effortlessly cycled 20 miles in an hour and a half
At 25 miles we came to a street filled with shops selling bread and so of course had to stop. An enormous loaf disappeared in about 5 seconds. Reading the Lonely Planet we had been prepared for over charging, and have suspected that our meals and hotels have been over priced so far, but with 30,000 dong to the pound, the calculations are difficult. Just as we were leaving however, I saw a Vietnamese lady pull up and buy 5 loaves of the bread we had paid 60,000 dong for and she handed over 50,000 and got loads of change! Asking a man down the road how much his bread was, we realised we had been charged 12x the going rate! It’s one thing haggling for prices buying souvenirs and stuff, it seems we’re going to need to haggle/check prices in food shops as well – annoying! We’ve got used to China, where most food/drinks cost 20p.
Back on the road, it really started to get hot, but the flat meant we kept up the fast pace and reached the outskirts of the city by 1pm. We’d heard the entire city is full of motorbikes, and they had already started to build-up by this point. We saw an array of animals in transit – 25 chickens, two pigs and then worryingly about 15 puppies on top of each other in a cage
Navigating into the city was great. Its massive, so after a few miles we pulled over into a coffee shop with wifi and used the itouch to pinpoint our exact location and the route to the hotel (Thanks Bosham lot for realising how amazing that would be!) Lattes and chocolate cake also received us for the last few miles. Hanoi is brilliant – huge wide streets, gorgeous French buildings and more motorbikes that you have ever seen. It’s a bit like Bombay without the slums. We checked out a couple of hotels, all lively, but we chose the one with the lift and mad street view. We’re back to spotless bathrooms and sparkling white sheets here.
Out and about in town, the restaurants and pubs are amazing. After a couple of drinks at different places, including a passionfruit daiquiri (yum) we settled for ‘The Tandoor’ and had an amazing curry. Funny to think just 6 weeks ago I thought I would never eat one again. They’d run out of white wine, but before Neville could have a massive strop they said he could go to the supermarket next door and chose some more – Phew! Sitting on the balcony in the warm evening air we enjoyed the hectic street scenes below and delicious food until 4 days cycling and interrupted nights caught up with me and I started falling asleep at the table. Turned out it was only 7.30pm, but nevermind –day off and lie-in tomorrow!
Miles Cycled: 51 fast and furious flat miles