Last Day in Hanoi

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

It was fantastic sleeping in today... before today I was feeling a distinct lack of sleep and starting to feel the effects of traveller's burnout. I enjoyed taking it easy today with a stroll around my favourite lake (Lake Kiem), a delicious lunch of pizza (much-needed after all the Vietnamese), and another session of chats with local university students in the lake's grounds. This took up most of my afternoon before re-joining the tour group at the hotel for yet another train ride from Hanoi to Hue (central Vietnam).

Strange enough I felt like this train ride. But the train was awful. I shared my compartment with Kenny, Bo and Nikki. Bo's plastic matress had dried blood on it, all of our sheets had pubic hairs on them, and the interior walls of the compartment were littered with graffiti. Nikki and Bo are outrageously fun and we laughed away the first 5 hours of the trip to Hue. Hue is situated about 700km south of Hanoi, and to put this into perspective, the train trip was 13 hours. I stick to my word in saying that overland travel in SE Asia is terribly slow. This train was a lot noisier than the others but I still managed to get about 6 hours sleep on the train. It must be the rocking motion or something.

This train trip was rather luxurious in that we could sleep in to 7... I have found arriving into foreign Vietnamese cities at 5am in the morning quite awful... but on this trip I awoke to a very, very strong and bland black coffee (which I spilt all over my bag, lower bunk beds and floor... cleaned up by the pubic-hair covered white sheet) and very sweet orange juice. I miss our sugar-free OJ in Australia... the OJ/lemon juice here has copious amounts of sugar added. The chocolate is also not as good... I miss our turkish delight made by Cadbury. The chocolate is quite bland here... does nothing for me.

On arrival in Hue, I was instantly attracted to the quieter pace of things compared to that of Hanoi. Hue has about 1 million people so a lot more relaxed to the 6 or so million in Hanoi. The architecture is also quite spectacular (French influence). The people seem to be friendly but the facilities are quite basic. It's difficult to find an ATM for example. And I am only allowed to withdraw up to 2,000,000 dong from my CBA saving's account (about $180). But I was very impressed to see a balance of 141,000,000 dong in my saving's account. If only it was in Aussie dollars. Some of the group members on this tour have told me I look like George Michael... maybe I can make some money out of this?????

I'm enjoying the group... but most of them seem to be on really miniscure budgets of $20 a day which is having an effect on where we eat and what we do etc. But it's good to get some tips off extreme budget travellers. I've been living it up a bit, which probably explains why I'm $1500 behind budget after 2 months of travel. But isn't that what credit cards are for???? And I hear that WA teachers are set for a massive pay increase (we can only wish!).
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