Madness, is the first word that springs to mind when thinking of Hanoi. I thought we were lucky to arrive in tact from the cab journey from the airport to our hostel, and that was in a big 4×4. On getting out of the cab and having cross the road, I thought our luck could change.
There are literally thousands of bikes everywhere. They go in every direction possible, including pavements and roads and the direction of traffic doesn’t seem to matter. Well we made it across the road to check into our hostel, dump our bags and head into town.
Hanoi wasn’t really what we expected, as we thought it would be more built up than it was. It wasn’t a bad thing, but we didn’t think there was a great amount to do in Hanoi other than wonder around the city.
One thing that we did find that was a highlight of Hanoi was Bia Hoi. This is a local home brew rice beer made by various bars in the Old Town. It costs 25p, and is definitely worth a try. It only lasts about a day before turning, so they only make it in small amounts. It basically means that you have to get to the bars before they run out for the day.
Another thing that I got roped in to was going to see the Vietnamese water puppets. The fact that it only cost about £1 each was the only reason I let Katy talk me into it. It was probably something that we should have seen, so there is a positive there. But to honest, it was probably only worth the £1 we paid. It’s very traditional for this region apparently, so that was our cultural input for the month.
To escape the busy city we decided to take a three day trip to Ha Long Bay. This area has around 2000 islands and some very stunning views. We spent the first on the boat, before getting time to do some canoeing and swimming. We had a really nice seafood dinner on the boat from the locals days catch, and this was supposed to be followed by a night of karaoke. However as most of our groups were more interested in drinking on the sun deck, we left the singing to the crew, which they seemed quite happy about.
The next day the boat dropped us off on Cat Ba Island, where we went to take a look at some of the caves that the Vietcong used during the ‘American War’. It was quite a network of tunnels, that included a cinema and a swimming pool.
After this we took our first bit of exercise of the trip, a 5km bike ride through the mountains. That probably makes it sound more difficult than it was, but I can live with that. Besides Katy made it look more difficult than it was.
We then spent the night in a eco lodge in the middle of a national park. It was very quiet other than the cows and geckos, and good to relax for the night. While we were there, we found out that the next two places that we were planning to visit, Hue and Hoi An, were flooded. It all looked quite serious as 88 people had died. However when we returned to Hanoi the next day, our hostel were adamant that we should still get the bus to Hue, and that no refund would be offered. Now call me picky, but I’d rather not spend hours in huge traffic jams waiting to get into a city that in under one meter of river water.
After much arguing, we decided to give up. As the entire area was flooded we had to get a flight to our next stop, Nha Trang. The flight was booked for 7am the next morning, so we decided to drown our sorrows. We went out with some people that we had met on the Ha Long Bay trip, and all of us (due to the unexpectedly good weather) went out with an amazing set of panda eyes.
We got back to the hotel at 12:30am and leaving enough time for about 3 hours sleep. Lets just say that we weren’t looking too perky at the airport that morning.
We’ve spent the last few days in Nha Trang enjoying the beach and good weather. There are a few islands in the area that we could have gone to visit, but we decided against it to just chill out on the beach. We’re moving onto Mui Ne next, which is another beach resort 5 hours south of here. Hopefully moving south will bring more sun.
Until the next time…