A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam - Hoi An

sunny 34 °C

My bus trip to Hoi An took 4 hours and while waiting for Alex to arrive in the hotel I enjoyed the pool. The hotel we are staying in, Vinh Hung 2 is really nice. Great room and even a pool in the courtyard. We spent the afternoon having a look around in town. Hoi An is really beautiful. It is the only place in Vietnam that didn't get damaged druing the war and loads of really nice old houses. Everything is much smaller here and much more relaxed. Really like it here. We bumped into the Aussies from the homestay and had a few drinks with them ang got a recommendation for a tailor where we headed to the next morning. What a great experience that was. They had loads of catlogues to choose from and I even designed my own Chinese dress. After picking what you like, you then choose the material for it. It was brilliant. They then measure every inch of you. We stayed there from about 10am to 1pm and had our first fitting already at 7pm where most of it was already done. Incredible! I spent more than I wanted, $950 but I got the following:
1 grey business suit with jacket, trousers and skirt
1 black suit with jacket and long skirt
1 linen suit
1 winter coat
2 short sleeve shirts
2 long sleeve shirts
1 work dress (wasn't meant to be for work but as we chose suit material I don't think it is suitable for anything else...)
1 Chinese dress

I then spent another $120 on 3 pairs of shoes and 1 pair of boots, which are of course tailored too.

A girls heaven!!! Alhtough Alex loved the experience too and every other guy we met did too. It is so cool and they are so professional. The great thing is they keep your measure on file and you can email them in future and order anything you like via email.
To recover from the exhausting time of all those difficult decisions we relaxed by the pool and did some sightseeing before dinner. Alex bumped into his sisters boyfriends best friend, john, who had a not clarified relationship with a Vietnames girl, which was most intriguing.
We went to a great restaurant whith a set menu with 5 or 6 dishes which was really good. Afterwards we went for drinks with them and had a really nice and funny evening. Nice way to celebrate into my birthday, in style of course with Long Island Ice Teas. :-)
The next morning was quite hard as we finished at 2am and had to be up at 7am. I had a great birthday though! It started with a visit to the market, followed by a boat ride to the Redbridge Restaurant where I did a cooking course which was great. My food decorations were certainly not my strength. My rose made out of a tomatoe looked more like a pyramid or maybe just a pile of tomatoe skin! After that we ate what cooked and went for another fitting at the tailor's. After speaking to Chris I found out that my package from Nepal has been opened and they took my Nalgene bottle with all my jewellery and souvenirs out! Damn!!! I am really unlucky!!!
After that we relaxed by the pool and I even got a card and a present from Alex, a really nice Vietnames diary, as mine is finished now. Really nice and sweet of him. I also got all flights and travel arranged for the remaining time in Vietnam and have now followed Alex' advise to go to Phu Quoc and skip Nha Trang and Mue Ne instead. 5 days of relaxing by the beach should be great and hopefully some good diving too. In the evening Alex took me out for dinner and we ended up having many more drinks and I was quite hung over the next day and suffered the whole day.
Got all my cloth and shoes finalised now and managed to ship everything back too. Let's hope it arrives this time.... I am really happy with all my cloth but the shoes aren't so great. The quality is not that good, but hey ho....
We are both flying to Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City tonight, but Alex is leaving earlier than me. We are sharing a room in the backpacking area and then I booked a room in the Park Hyatt Hotel, my birtday present from my Mum, which should be great. I decided to invite Alex along too, otherwise it might be a bit boring.

Posted by Julia1976 04:44 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam - Hue

semi-overcast 39 °C

Back in Hanoi, I spent the entire morning on the Internet and then treated myself to an one hour massage plus sauna which you had prior to the massage. Not that you really need a sauna in that heat, but it was part of it for Euro 4.50. Happy Days! She did want the whole amount I paid in the first place then as tip too, but I stood my ground and was advised by Alex to only give 10% which I did. Cheeky cow! After some shopping, more Internet and dinner I made my way to the train station for the next night train. This time the restaurant called the taxi and assured me that the meter wasn't messed with and it was all correct. I had to discover that the last meter taxi over-charged me 5 times, as he manipulated the meter. This one seemed to be honest but wanted a kiss instead.... Excuse me??? What is going on here?? Just get me out of here.
The Reunification Express I was taking to Hue is certainly not the same standard as the last night train. Whereas the other compartments where quite cosy, this is a bit more like cattle class but with beds. Was hoping that my luggage still be there the next morning. This seems to be more transport for the locals as there are hardly any tourists on the train, which is the nice thing. I was glad anyway that I found my compartment in all that chaos, as I really didn't expect that.

On my way to the train station I was just amazed by the Vietnam traffic again. There really seem to be no rules. No one ever gets fined for speeding, so everyone is literally in the race and the biggest one goes first. That's it for the rules. To cross the street you cannot wait until there is a free gap, as everyone disregards traffic lights and therefore there are no gaps, so you just have to take a deep breath be brave (or stupid....) and step out on the road. Move slowly and they will drive around yu and eventually manage to cross, but don't dare making any unexpected or hectic moves while you are surrounded by motorbikes and cars, as they might not be able to avoid you then.
Compared with Kathmandu it still seems quiet but they still have their own rules here all the motorbikes are just crazy and a bit scary too.

After another 10.5 hour journey on the Reunification Express I got to Hue. That they call it "Express" is slightly misleading as the train drives at an average speed of 41 km/h!!!! That's why it takes forever.... After having a few drinks with my dinner I at least managed to sleep well this time on the train. Unfortunately I had to discover there must have been some bugs on the last train, as I covered my feet with the blanket they provided and now my feet are covered in bites. They are not from mosquitos.... nice! Don't know whether I want to know what they are...
Hue seems even hotter, if that is actually possible. I was told it is between 38-40C! Unbelievable... Apart from that, besides the Citadel which is great there is not much to the city. The citadel makes you want to go back in time and have a sneak what the "Forbidden City" was like when they still had an emperor. My hotel is nice and it after all the night trains it feels good to have an actualy place/room to stay for a few nights. Booked myself on to a long day trip for the tunnels and the DMZ (Demilitarisation Zone) and a day trip on the Perfume River to see the tombs and a pagoda. For all that plus a bus ticket from Hue to Hoi An O only paid Euro 13.50, so quite happy about that. Everything seems to be cheaper here than in Hanoi..... my room is only $8 for with A/C, fridge and TV, so not bad at all. After some sightseeing and the Citadel, some Internet I had dinner at the Tropical Garden which is a fantastic restaurant and had some really good food.

Both my day trips were unfortunately a bit disappointing. The guide for the tunnels I again couldn't understand but had the most beautiful fingernails on his right hand. Really strange... It is to show that he isn't a farmer or labour worker. A lot have that here, but ususally just one one finger. His right hand was imaculate. Looked like a perfectly well manicured hand of a woman who just left the nail studio. Couldn't stop staring at it. Quite strange when you then looked up and saw him and his face.... just weird... He was also very much pro North Vietnam which was a bit much. It's also interesting that everyone calls it the American War and seems to forget and deny that South Vietnam was fighting along the Americans.
We have seen the bridge+river that separated North and South Vietnam, part of what used to be the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vinh Moc Tunnels.
The tunnels were quite impressive. It took them 20 months to build them and they lived in there for 6 years. Incredible.... In darkness with hardly any ventilation... They are bigger than I thought as I could move more or less standing up straight but to live in them must be dreadfull. There was a guy that was born in there with really bad effects from the herbids they sprayed. Mentally he wasn't with it and he also couldn't speak or hear.. No one knows what the effects are and how long and how devastating they were. They only started researching it recently, 30 years later....
They still have areas where up until now nothing grows. All tigers and elephants which they had a lot of have disappeared too. An Aussie girl on the trip told me that her father who was a soldier here too, is also affected by Agent Orange and even she has a chance that her child will get it. I really need to get some more info on the Ho Chi Minh Trail too... It took the Viet Cong 2-3 years to go from North to South and they all had to go alone and were not allowed to talk to each other so the Americans wouldn't pick up a signal. They quite often got lost, died of Malaria etc. They were certainly very determined and very tough, no wonder the Americans couldn't stand up to them.
Unfortunately I didn't get us much information as I would have like to.
A group of us went for dinner and some drinks afterwards. It was a nice but also very strange evening. Some people you meet are just weird....

The next day I went to the Perfume River trip, slightly hung over.... I have seen the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Tu Duc Tomb and the Hon Chen Temple. I skipped the other 2 tombs as we had to pay extra to go in each time. No wonder the trip was so cheap. It was okay but nothing too special. In hinsight I could have skipped Hue and used the 3 days for Phu Quoc Island which I now probably won't have enough time for. Bugger....

Posted by Julia1976 23:41 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam - Sapa

semi-overcast 32 °C

The two French guys who were already in Halong Bay and I were joined by another English guy who is just moving to New Zealand, Alex. It really seems that all people I meet when trecking are quite special and extremely nice.
We were leaving in the evening to catch the night train after having dinner with the guys from the Halong Bay trip. To find the night train and our specific compartment would have been impossible without guiding from one of the Handspan Agency girls. Not quite sure how I should manage by myself when I go to Hue....
The 4 of us shared one compartment which was tiny but quite cosy. My first ever night train. Altough the beds were quite good I didn't get much sleep and was exhausted when we arrived at 5am in Sapa. We had some breakfast and had some time to have a look around in town and went to the market. I started the day in good style. After forgetting already my book with my much loved Everest book mark I fell down the stone stairs in Sapa. Damn slippy things! I fell straight on my arm which is now also completely bruised and very painful.
Not sure what is going on at the moment, but I seem to fall and slip wherever I go and also seem to loose and forget everything and that is been going on for quite some time now. It's a nightmare.
We got a cute 18 year old girl as our guide, called Chi. the trecking was fabulous. It was really hot but I expected it to be even worse. It is higher than Hanoi, so therefore a little bit cooler. The scenary was well and truly breath taking. Mountains with terraces of rice paddies as far as you could see. It looked exactely like you imagine it, or actually even better. The rice terraces are so impressive. They have water buffaloes too, which are in a way really quite cute and have to work so hard wading through knee high water pulling the farmer standing on his plough.
The whole place was so muddy and slippery that all of us fell over and sliped in the mud. I, of course twice landing right with my bum in the mud. Great!
If they are not doing that they just laze in some water wholes and completely cover themself in mud. The hill tribes here all speak different languages and the only way for them to communicated between the tribes is in Vietnamese. They have great traditional cloth. Our guide for example is wearing some sort of black velvet dress with embroidery. Well it's actually some sort of velvet trousers with a dress on top and also some gaiters on her legs.
We stayed in a homestay which is with a local family. They basically had a barn with some mattrices in the attic. The cooking place was an open fire, electricity was only limited, i.e. the fridge was only working when all the other lights were switched off and the "shower" was a bowl of water underneath a tab on the floor with a big cup in it to poor the water over yourself. Also staying there were some Aussies and a Belgian guy who was quite funny but really weird. What is it about Belgians??? It seems all prejudices about the Belgians are correct and they are just strange people. We had a great evening with loads of games, riddles, endless theories about the next Harry Potter book etc. etc. I love that theorie in case anyone is into Harry Potter. Simon believes that Harry himself is one of the Hocruxes.... now, how is that?? If that isn't a great theory then I don't know what.
The whole evening was of course accomplished with loads of beer and rice/snake wine, which is basically Schnaps and is horrible. We still managed to finish the whole bottle! :-)
The four of us counted 39 beers in the morning! Good team effort!

The next morning we were trying to walk again, which ended up more sliding down hill as it was even steeper and even more slippery. We were sliding down to a hot spring. All of us fell again and it was getting quite ridiculous. At least I only ended up with my bum int he mud and not in one of that massive buffalo poo piles like on of the Aussie girls!
The hot spring was only a small pool but nice and the surrounding scenary so beautiful.
After that we went for some proper refreshment to a waterfall and river which great but really cold water. Also really strong current.
Over lunch we continued our lovely conversation from the previous day about extreme and disgusting food while Alex was pulling a caterpillar out of his lunch. At least it wasn't me this time, so maybe my luck is changing after all.... We discussed all sorts of food, from eyeballs (the French have seen so many cats without eyeballs that they are convinced the Vietnames eat them...), testicles, deep fried tarantulas etc. Why we keep having these conversations over dinner I really don't know.
On the market in Sapa they were also selling dog... urrgh.... and the French were really keen on trying it but who would be surprised about that??? :-) The dog was lying next to cut up waterbuffalo feet, crow feet and all that sort of stuff. We also saw a guy that had a whole dead pig on his little motorbike cruising through Sapa.... weird!
After lunch we got picked up by a really old jeep that somehow managed to get us through the worst mud I have ever seen. It also was the most bumpy and slippery ride I have ever had. Surprised we didn't shoot over the cliff....
Back in Sapa we had a shower and some quick shopping in the market where we all managed to get some cool bargains before we were getting back on to our cosy night train again. Unfortunately this time we didn't share a compartment, but at least I got some good sleep on the train this time. We were already woken up at 4.30am. Somehow we lost an hour which at that time in the morning isn't really an advantage. Stumbling out in the darkness and being completely tired I couldn't even find the guys and after being hassled, pinched and screwed by two taxi drivers I was in a great mood and getting ready to even leave Vietnam. It is so annoying here sometimes....

Anyway, the whole trip was still amazing. I just love trecking. Althouth it was obviously by no means as hard as Nepal, it was just very different but still great! I seem to develop a stange feeling of freedom and happiness when I am trecking. Very cheesy, but it is true...
I will meet up with Alex in Hoi An and maybe with the French guys in Hue, which would be great, as we had a brilliant time!

Posted by Julia1976 08:12 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam - Halong Bay

semi-overcast 35 °C

The group for Halong Bay is small, we are only 7 - one couple from London, Tash and Sean, one couple from Australia moving to London, Karen and Rhino and two French guys that will also come trecking with me, Julian and Simon. They all seem lovely. We drove to the harbour where we got on our boat which is fabulous. A typical Vietnamese wooden boat. All cabins are fab, all in wood and really cute. I even have my own bathroom completely tiled in white. I can't even remember whenI have seen that last time. The lounge of the boat where we have our meals is very stylish and comfy too. This is travelling in pure luxury. I couldn't believe my eyes when they served our lunch. Seafood and all sorts of delicious dishes. The food was amazing and the decoration incredible. Heart decorations, flower etc. we even had a small bouquet of flowers made of food, i.e. a rose made out of a carrot. This is the best and poshest trip I have been on all for $148! Happy days... I am in heaven and so excited. The group is really nice and we all get on well. The first few hours we were shipping through Halong Bay, which is amazing. 3000 limestone rock islands and we are navigating through them. The islands are everywhere. There are so many that when you look to the horizon thre is hardly a gap anywhere they actually look like mountain ranges in several layers rather than separate islands. It is an incrdible sight. The islands have again something quite mystic. In between the islands are little so called floating villages which are basically an accumulation of little house boats. It literally is a small village floating on the sea. Stunning! We went to a cave in the afternoon - Amazing Cave - which was great. 3 different rooms in there all full with limestone columns etc. One of them looked like a penis! Ha Apparently it symbolises fertility! You don't say....! All the caves were illuminated really nicely. After that we went for a swim off the boat which was so nice after all that heat in Hanoi. The sea is almost too warm but hey ho, can't complain...;-)
We had a delicious dinner again, best food I had in a long time and so healthy too, it's great! I really like the Vietnames food so far. It's cheap, around Euro 2/3 for a a nice meal in a nice restaurant with a drink. The herbs and spices they use are brilliant. Looking forward to my cooking course already.
Thanks to Vietnam being a French colony in the old days, they have not only kept the architecture but also some of the food, so you can find baguettes everywhere. Heavan! I couldn't believe my luck when they served me a baguette and real butter (no yak butter) and cheese for breakfast. Only the laughing cow cheese but I was in heaven.
We had a few drinks and finished at around 1am. A really nice evening with a stunning and so romantic sunset and scenary. It was just incredible. Sometimes I can't believe my luck to see all these places and make all these incredible experiences. What a lucky girl I am ....:-) All the years of saving have been paid off more than I could have wished for.
The next day was kayaking day which was great. I can only repeat that I just love kayaking. I was going with Ngoc, the guide and despite of having my little Vietnamese hat as sun protection it was boiling hot but still fantastic. The scenary of Halong Bay is just made for kayaking. The sea is really calm. Before we got back for lunch we went to a lagoon kayaking through a whole in a the rocks which was great. I the lagoon we met another group and the while we were all kayaking aournd enjoying the fantastic scenary. a water snake jumped on the kayak of the the other guide. It was yellow and black and turned out to be more poisenous than a cobra.... nice!
We also passed some of those floating villages. They are incredible. They are tiny little houses, they use generators for their electricity and have water delivered by a boat on demand. Not a lot of action seems to be going on there. They seem to either lie in their hammocks or be out fishing or look after the fish they breed. They have nets under their houses where they breed reef sharks. Hmm.... maybe swimming there is not a good idea. I wonder how often they check the nets for wholes...
They even have dogs living on those house boats. Not sure how they get any exercise or where they do their business.... maybe they are just for the next dinner... who knows....
After some swimming, I swam to a nice little island and after some lunch and resting we went for some more kayaking. It was beautiful but not really that exhausting, which was good.
We were then brought to Cat Ba Island. The hotel was nice, brand new, but no atmosphere but I was happy about the A/C. The "town" was almost as bad as an English sea side town. Not so good! I had my first big green coconut, which was also not great. Quite tasteless, not sweet, warm and didn't really taste of coconut. It looked impressive though! It was a quiet evening , we had dinner in the hotel, had a drink at the promenade and I then had a walk around and went back to the hotel after I reallised there wasn't much to see. Everyone was quite tired and looking forward to a cool room. It's so hot and humid here...
Our guide didn't show up all evening which was quite okay with me, as I hardly understand a word he is saying. I am not talking about a bad accent here, his pronounciation is so far off the reality that in most cases it is impossible for me to figure out what he is on about. I am also getting quite fed up with his so called "Vietnames science". He constantly tries to enlighten us with his bizarre facts. The latest one was that after being in a sauna you can't jump into cold water or have a cold shower as you most likey will die and no doctore on earth will be able to help you. I couldn't help pointing out that all of Europ is doing it, but never mind....
Our last day Halong was spent swimming, shipping around and having lunch before going back to the harbour and taking the bus back to Hanoi. I did a nice fall though. The wooden floors on the boat was nice and slippy and after the swimming it was even more slippy and fell down the whole stairs from the upper deck to the lower one. I am now completely brused and look as if I have been abused. Rhino feel the day earlier and another guy that swapped boats with us too. He even had his eyebrow stitched. Stupid stairs.... I did complain though and told them they need to get that sorted....
Back in Hanoi we all had a drind before I spend some time on the Internet to find out that the Nepali shipment company has now charged me for the 7th time! Great! Tried to sort it out but no luck, so will need to wait until I am back from Sapa. We all had dinner together in 69 which was great and Simon and Julian and I went on the night train in the evening for our trecking trip in Sapa.

Posted by Julia1976 07:49 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam - Hanoi

semi-overcast 35 °C

I am now in Hanoi and the remainder of my journey here was okay. Due to the delay and the time difference I just about managed to catch my flight in Bangkok not realising how late it already was, indulging myself in Sushi and other shopping in Bangkok airport... upssiii.... that was a close call again.
I got ripped off at the airport again and wasn't happy. Sorted that out at the hotel straight away as I overheard the receptionist quoting someone else..... bastards....
The ripping off already continues, so far it unfortunately seems true what everyone else has told me. I bought some fresh pineapple this morning and was told by the water lady that I should have paid maximum half the price but I haggled already and was originally asked 4 times the price. And that is already the tourits price anyway, as they pay about 4 times as much as Vietnamese anyway. It is difficult to work out how much things should cost if you just got here...

Apart from that I ended in Hotel Prince and have a huge room with A/C, fridge, TV and it is very nice and clean, so that is a good start. I am based in the old quarter which is the heart of the city and really busy. The place is full with shops, merchants, markets and I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life. Everything seems more developed here than in Nepal and Tibet, Western toilets and I even had a nice / safe taxi with even A/C, so that was quite a difference. Felt quite civilised. The driving style is very similar though. A lot of beeping, the more you beep the safer driver you are, no helmets and quite chaotic, as they seem to be no traffic rules. Well, I am sure there are some, but no one seems to take notice. So quite chaotic, but nothing like Kathmandu. After I got here I slept about 11 hours, probably needed that and are also not used to the luxury of an air conditioned room and complete darkness. So, I got up a bit later to explore the Hanoi.
I started with Hoan Kiem Lake, continued with Ngoc Son Temple and then followed the Lonely Planet walking tour. The heat in this place is undescribable. Apart form my hiking tour in Fiji which is the only thing that mildly compares, I don't think I have ever been so hot. Unbelievable. By the time I got back, everything was soaked.... disgusting! After a shower I had to stay in my cool room for a while as I thought I might pass out going back into that heat straigt away. Even during my sightseeing I had to escape a couple of times into tourist offices which were air conditioned, as I thought I wouldn't make it back to the hotel. Crazy!! I hope I get used to this. I also booked a two trips today, one to Halong Bay which should be amazing and one to to go trecking in Sapa. It only occured to me afterwards that I must have gone mad due to the heat. Who on earth would want to go trecking in this heat???
Anyway, Hanoit, or at least the old quarter is nice and really busy. It seems that a lot of things are gathered in the same street, i.e. in one street you find loads of shoe shops, then mats and all sort of bamboo stuff, then food, then buddha statues, then tins and boxes, then jewellery and so on. People have also everything out in the middle of the street, like preparing and cooking their food, eating, bathing their babies in a bowl, haircuts, (yes, people are sitting in the middle of the street getting their hair cut), playing games, drinking tea, reading newspapers, welding (don't ask me how they cope welding in this heat...), etc. If the above doesn't happen than the curve is coverd by parked motorbikes, so it is impossible in Hanoi to walk on there you have to walk on the street. Crossing the street here is also quite an adventure. You basically have to take a deep breath be brave and just start walking straight into the traffic. Don't move to fast, stop suddenly or make any other sudden movements and they will drive around you. As there are no rules there is never a time where the street is clear, so that is the only chance you have crossing the street. Just keep walking..... So, Hanoi is certainly never boring with all that going on.
It is a bit annoying that you are hassled all the time but ususally they stay away after one or two times saying "no".
You can certainly see the French influence here. It used to be one of the French colonies and you can see it in the architecture of the buildings and you still find baguettes and delicious pasteries on every corner.
So far the food is incredible, the herbs and spices they use are just delicious. I can't wait for my cooking course. Also, shopping is again a big temptation here. Might need to get a couple of things...:-)
So far, so good and I have to say I quite like it Hanoi and Vietnam. I love it that you can get fresh fruit on every corner from those little women that carry two baskets on a long stick over their shoulder.

My second day in Hanoi was again quite eventful. Where to start?? I was on my way to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum when I got pissed off the first time. The hotel offered to call me a cab to get there and told me it would be 30,000 Dong. When getting into the cab I asked how much it was he said straight away 60,000. I argued that I was told 30k but he wouldn't have it and said it depends on the meter. However, if he says 60k straight away I am sure he will make sure that the meter will end up there too, so I had to open the door while driving as he wouldn't stop to get out. Even the hotel people then argued with him but he stayed stubborn and left and they called me another one. I get the feeling that they try at least to charge you double of what the actual price should be, even when it is coming through a hote. I also can't help thinking since I am now without the boys and by myself again that they take the piss even more. I have to say haggling is fine, but not when a hotel calls a cab, for a bottle of water, some fruit and all these daily things, I find that quite annoying. The only thing that seems okay are the restauarants and entrance fees, at least you can see your prices there and they also seem fairly cheap too. Euro 2 for a nice meal and a beer, Euro 0.50 for a theatre ticket to the Water Puppet Theatre.... happy days, you really can't complain about that.
So, I got to the Mausoleum and there was a massive queue. Fortunately it was moving quite fast as the heat was unbearable. I am sweating so much, that I am convinced I get pitiful looks from everyone, as no one seems to be as hot as me and probably no one looks so close to passing out than me. The Mausoleum was quite eerie. They bring his body 3 months each year to Russia for maintenance, although rumours say that Mme Tassaud has the contract now. They are very strict here. You can't bring anything, have to be dressed descent, can't talk, can't have your hands in your pockets and so on. At least it was nice and cool in there, so I would have loved to stay there for a while even with a dead body in the room, but they push you through. Apparently the mausoleum is meant to look like an orchid from outside... hmmmm not sure about that. I don't think I have ever seen a buliding more square than that one, so not sure where the orchid comes into place.
The dead body lies in the middle in a glas coffin and is guarded by 4 Vietnamese. It is quite strange to look at a dead body.....
Afterwards you can see the two houses where he used to live. It is very touristy but still quite interesting. As everything closes already at 11am I had to give the museum a miss but who can expect them to close at 11am???
As I said before, the heat seems to be getting to me, as I now thought it would be a real fun idea to take one of those motorbikes that offer you a lift, like a taxi but on a bike to the Literature Temple, my next destination, as I decided it was quite clearly too hot to walk. No helmet, only flip flops, shorts and a T-Shirt and a guy that drives like a nutter, like everyone else. He was driving over red, into junctions without looking, in the opposite direction against the traffic and so on. Som many situations where I had to close my eyes and hold my breath as I didn't really want to see what we were getting into.
In complete shock and grateful for being alive I agreed to the guys suggestion to not pay him straight away but that he would wait for me and then bring me back to the hotel.
Big mistake that was.... Never let anyone wait for you unless the price is agreed, or better just don't do it at all. After I told him that I wasn't interested in a sightseeing tour but just wanted to go back anywhere in the old quarter he got really pissed off and now started driving really aggressive. Before it was just mad, but as everyone else seems to do it too, you just get on with it, but his driving style certainly changed now and I wasn't happy about that. He dropped me off literally around the corner and said he wanted 20,000 but by the time I got off the bike he changed his mind and wanted 300,000 Dong!! The reasoning behind it was that he had to wait for me. We had a massive arguement and I obviously refused to pay him that much. After a while he dropped to 100,000 which was still 5 times the price. After I gave him the agreed money and ran off, he followed me and through the money back at me and called me all sort of names and got so aggressive that I was asking people who stopped around us for help and to call the police. Of course, what a surprise no one spoke any English anymore and not even the word police seemed to make sense to them. After he wouldn't let me go and got more and more aggressive I got so scared that he might pull out a knife or something that I just through the money at him and ran off not without checking every few seconds whether he is following me to stab me from behind. Fortunately I realised on time that it isn't a lot of money and certainly not worth dying for, I just got hung up on the whole principle. I have to say I was quite shaky after that experience. What a bastard and what a stupid mistake of myself to do... but again, you live and learn....
After I had calmed down again, I realised that I even forgot to take a picture from the Ho Chi Minh Mauoleum as the driver picked me up on the back entrance and I originally wanted to go to the front again. Damn! Not being prepared to live Hanoi without a proper picture of it, I ended up walking all the distance the taxi drove me in the morning and the distance of the motorbike, but there was no chance I was leaving without a picture nor that I would get on to another motorbike. I must have looked like death on legs, close to passing out.... and got even more pitiful looks. Every motorbike driver got dirty looks from me from now on... maybe not the way forward but at least for today ;-)
When I finally got back to Old Quarter I went to the Internet Cafe, as I realised that I had lost my credit card in India or had it stolen. So, to check wheter anyone had taken anything but it seemed okay, apart from the shipment company in Kathmandu who has withdrawn the amount twice. I straight away called my bank to find out that they in fact have tried to taken the same amount 6 times!!! Really not my day today!
In the afternoon I went to the Water Puppet Theatre which was excellent! A whole show for Euro 0.50! That's what I call great value! Absolutely loved the show. Couldn't understand a word as everything was in Vietnamese but the choreography and the setting and band were brilliant. The eve was spent on the Internet again still struggeling to catch up. Tomorrow morning I will start my trip to Halong Bay and can't wait...

Posted by Julia1976 07:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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