Vietnam on the move

Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
Trip End Mar 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
Prince 4 hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pretty uneventful today. Woke up really early to start the journey back to Hanoi. Went to the southern end jetty of Cat Ba town, got onto a junk boat and started sailing. The sights were amazing. About after 2 hours, we were transferred to a larger and more luxurious vessel. Decorated with intricate chinese ornaments and complete with sundecks, the experience was really good. More amazing sights along the way and my camera was working overtime. Near the harbour we had to transfer to a passenger boat to reach Halong City. We had lunch and set out to Hanoi pretty quick.
Along the way I spotted alot of tombs which were raised, not buried, in the middle of rice paddy fields. Journey took about 3 hours, arriving at 430pm in Hanoi. I got transferred to Prince 4 Hotel this time at Pho Hang Ga, which was nearer to the railway track on the east side of Old Quarters. Location was not that bad because there were many food stalls around.
Checked in, I made my way to the train station on foot but it was a longer trek than I expected. Booking a train ticket shouldn't be a headache but because of Tet holiday, soft sleepers were sold out for the dates I wanted to leave for Dong Ha. As a rule of thumb, 10 days in advance for booking to secure a soft sleeper on a train. At the ticketing booth, I was told all soft sleepers to Dong Ha, Hue and Danang were sold out. It is about 15 hours journey to Danang. Hard seat ticket didnt seem appealing to me.
So I sat down and reschedule my itinerary for a bus to Hue instead and scrap my plans to Dong Ha. I was ready to call Sinh Tourist for bus booking when I couldnt dial their number due to missing national extension codes. Damn! I was about to leave for their office in Old Quarters when I decided to try my luck this time at a different train ticketing booth. To my surprise I was told a soft sleeper ticket was available to Danang on 25 Feb. I got all excited and paid 624 000 VND for the ticket, without realising that I wasnt planning to go Danang first but Hue (which is one stop closer). And this was after scrapping Dong Ha off my itinerary. I asked info counter if i could alight earlier at Hue instead of Danang despite my ticket and she sort of said I could.
So I got my soft sleeper ticket, couldnt be happier. Next stop Lenin Park. I had to bargain my motor ride price from vnd 60 000 to vnd 25 000 and off I went. He brought me instead to Bay Mau Lake which was ok since it was right next door to Lenin Park. The entire Bay Mau Lake was under construction, so nothing to see. Walked to Lenin Park - it was alot more peaceful and quiet with locals jogging and exercising. Along Tran Nhan Tong Street, I headed towards Nguyen Du Street where I found a food stall selling a type of claypot chicken with preserved cabbage rice, so I ordered a plate. It was tasty and the rice crusty like claypot rice - vnd 30 000.
I slowly made my way on foot back along Pho Hang Bai to Old Quarters, passing Hoan Kiem Lake again. The place was alive with people and lots of couples. Watched a public performance of vietnamese teens doing break dancing on stage. The crowds were huge and many motorists simply stopped on their tracks and watched.
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