Monday, 14 April 2014

Hanoi. Vietnam.

Hanoi was the end of our Vietnamese tour and it started with a nineteen hour bus journey. The first four hours were on a rickety old bus with no A/C and broken chairs. The next fifteen hours were on the top bunk of a sleeper bus. Comfort was far from mine. At 5am three hours before we arrived in Hanoi the douchebag driver decided to replay the travel 'entertainment' which was the Vietnamese version of Pop Idol. At maximum volume. Shortly after this it started to rain. It didn't stop raining for a further five hours. I had been wondering where all this Vietnamese rain was. We found it in Hanoi.

From bus to taxi to Hostel. Hanoi Backpackers hostel. Staying here is almost a backpacker's right of passage. Before our travels on one summers day we walked along the Leeds canal, a man passed us jogging, wearing a Hanoi Backpackers vest. Cat pointed it out to me & said that's where we will be staying & I am going to buy that vest. Eight days ago she bought that vest.

We stayed at the Original Hanoi Backpackers. This photo was taken of the other one downtown. Glad we didnt stay here. Didn't have any of the charm of the original. Started in 2004 by two Aussies who converted a former diplomats house into a hostel. I believe there are now three.

This was the name of the female only dorm. Thankfully our private room was available straight away. But, the free walking tour offered by the hostel was not walking today due to lack of staff. Instead we paid a visit to the Hoa Lo Prison. Built by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War when it was sarcastically named by the Americans as the "Hanoi Hilton".

After the prison we had brunch at Hanoi Social Club. Another great recommendation by Gemma. What a stark contrast from the traffic heavy streets. Inside we find this quaint coffee shop which could have been in any hipster part of any town. We had our first and last meal here. On the last night the place was packed. I asked if a band were playing or something? "No, story telling" was the reply from the waitress. While waiting for our meal I heard an American hipster chick yell down the phone "yeah but not right now, I am going to check out the story jam"

Best muesli I have ever tasted.

Hanoi Backpackers Hostel has a bit of a reputation as a party hostel. It does a Pub Crawl every night where both hostels meet up and attack Hanoi. Before the crawl we played giant Jenga. But Catherine said it wasnt "giant enough". Then beer pong/vodka pong. One of the contestants had an allergy to beer. The pub crawl was fun. Hanoi's night life is quite varied. From shisha bars to clubs. We stayed out after we were abandoned by our Hostel Pub Crawl leaders. We headed off into the night over a motorway & into a dingy night club. The music was horrendous. It was actually the worst type of music imaginable. Where they mash up a great song with some bullshit euro techno crap. So the song starts and your like, yeah this is cool, lets dance. Then whistles, bombs and sirens turn up for some pointless reason & wreck everything. Mash ups aside, we had a great night. Met some cool people & had a lot of laughs.

There is this really cool Cathedral here but apart from a lake there isn't a great deal to see or do. Most people come here to visit Halong Bay. We were running out of visa days & had already booked a flight to Singapore. So that was not even an option for us. Halong Bay does look pretty impressive but no more impressive than any other Islands that we have seen a hundred times or more. We almost went to see Uncle Ho. Ho Chi Mihn at the mausoleum. But he keeps such strange hours for a dead man. 8am - 10am & not open on a Friday. The mausoleum was at least a thirty minute walk away, & unless I have a plane to catch, getting up before 9am, even with an alarm set, probably isn't going to happen.

Another great recommendation By Gem. The food was super cheap, authentic & real tasty.

I can not remember the name but this was one of the best things I ate & I found it in Noodle & Roll. Tofu with peanuts and Greens.

I really did enjoy this country. Vietnam is so damn cool! The countryside is beautiful. The major cities are so vibrant & crazy. The people are really friendly. Vietnamese food is healthy & very tasty. Weather you are dodging the downpour with soaking wet feet or drinking ice cold glasses of beers for pennies in the hot sun. Its easy to love Vietnam.

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