Asia | South East Asia | Vietnam | Far North | Hanoi – Hanoi
I was very sad to leave Hoi An… what a fantastic place! And Hanoi, well, what can I say… I love it here!!! Will I ever be able to leave? My visa expires next week, so I have to hit the road again… ho, hum!
On the bus from Hoi An, I hooked up with a Danish girl, the lovely Charlotte, and she and I have been hanging out together ever since. We stopped for one night in Hue, a very forgettable town… although we did find a restaurant that served the most amazing chicken and avocado sandwiches – one can get really sick of noodles and rice – so this was a real find!!!
Met a weird American soldier at the DMZ (demilitarised zone) Bar, who’s job is dead bodies. The American government spend a fortune finding the bodies of soldiers who were lost in war, apparently they are still on the look out for bodies from the Second World War, and there are 2000 bodies still missing in Vietnam!!! Go figure! It took him a while to convince me that he wasn’t pulling my chain.
After Hue it was a 19 hour bus ride to Hanoi – not something I want to repeat in a hurry, if ever! The bus was packed and the seats were really uncomfortable – it all stank, literally and figuratively. The only people who had a good time were the drivers (3 of them), who had commandeered a double row of seats so that they could spread out and sleep. At one point we stopped, at about 4 am, so that the drivers could eat – only the drivers could eat, we were completely ignored, and only when a German kicked up a huge fuss was he able to get a cup of tea. This is a really good example of what happens in Vietnam – sometimes the people are so lovely and friendly you want to take them home with you, and other times, you are faced with such rudeness and hate, you realise completely why the Americans lost the war!
It was a huge relief to arrive in Hanoi – we are staying at a fabulous family-run guest house. The Guest house is in the Old Quarter in Hanoi, where there are loads of fantastic shops and restaurants. The family are sooooo friendly and nice, I don’t ever want to leave. In fact if I was a man I would want to marry their oldest daughter, Thuy, she’s gorgeous and speaks impeccable English. It was Charlotte’s 21st birthday (I feel sooo old!!!) on Monday – the family bought her a huge bunch of flowers, which they put, as a surprise, in our room – WOW!!! We had a great night out – even Thuy joined us, which is not really the done thing for respectable Vietnamese girls.
Hanoi is such a lovely city, fantastic old buildings, and lots of atmosphere. We have hired bicycles (so you don’t get hassled by Cyclo drivers!) and have been running around like mad things, trying to see as much as possible. I hope I’ve given you a reasonable picture of what it’s like here – I don’t feel like I’ve done it justice, but this will have to do…!
Tomorrow we are off to Ha Long Bay for 3 days, I can’t wait! Then it’s back here for a couple of days before going on to Laos…