Flying home from Vietnam today. Flight is at 11.25pm. It’s about 4.30pm now and we’re a bit stuck with what to do because we are low on money and can’t crash in the room anymore because we had to check out so thought I’d make the most of my spare time in the lobby and blog. This is going to be a long one I’m afraid.
After returning from Ha Long Bay, the hotel we are staying in had taken in too many walk-ins so we had to stay in their sister hotel down the road. It was dreadful. Luckily, the following day we were able to move back to our original hotel, but they only had rooms at the back. Our first room, before we went to Ha Long Bay had been at the front of the hotel and they are massive rooms with nice bathrooms. The bedroom at the back had 2 single beds at opposite sides of the room and was tiny. We were not happy but understood that there were no other rooms. Unfortunately, the only window was covered with tarpaulin because they were building out the back. So come 7am and we were woken with the sound of hammering. Great. More on this later….
Just been hanging out in Hanoi for the last few days, buying stuff and eating a lot. On Monday we went on a day trip to Tam Coc and Hoa Lu. To be honest, I wish we hadn’t bothered. It was a bit crap. It was a 2 hour drive and they took us to some 1,000 year old temple which wasn’t very spectacular and then we went for some dreadful buffet lunch full of tourists eating with knives and forks. After that, me & Nick got in a metal boat and an old lady rowed us down a river and through some caves for what felt like forever. It was awful. I felt dreadful that this poor old lady had to row us. I felt like a rich white twat. There was a smaller paddle in the boat so I helped her paddle for most of it but I’m not sure whether I was helping or making it worse. At the end, you end up in this little cove where it’s full of boats where they try and sell you Coke and Oreos. We ‘bought some for our guide’ which is obviously a load of crap. I bet she’s never eaten an Oreo in her life. She probably hands it all back to her at the end of the day. Then on the way back, she pulled the boat over to the side and tried to sell us t-shirts out of a big metal box. It was honestly one of the worst experiences of my life. Which is such a shame because the scenery was out of this world.
After you finally get off the boat, we got to go on a bike ride which was amazing. Outside the bike-hire place they were selling dog meat which was a bit horrible but that’s how they live out here. Unfortunately because we were stuck in a group full of dawdly old people, we ran out of time to get all the way to the pagoda which is a real shame. We cycled all the way to the end of the path but you had to do a bit of walking up a hill to get there and we didn’t have time for that. The cycling was great though. We went through real villages with real people and no tourists and the scenery was even better than on the boat. And the sun was starting to set which made the light wonderful.
On the drive home it started to pour with rain. This wasn’t really a problem for us because we were just on a bus but it meant that the world and his wife were also trying to get home so we got stuck in a traffic jam. It took us about 2 hours to move 10 metres. We were meant to arrive back at the hotel at 6.30pm and got back at 8.30pm. We went to dump our stuff in the room and opened the door to find the entire floor covered in water. It had obviously come in through the window and must have had something to do with the building work going on outside. Luckily, Nicks rucksack with his laptop in was on top of our suitcases so it was dry and my bag has metal rods in it which meant that my stuff was all dry too. But Nick just had a holdall and all of his clothes were soaking. We called the bell-boy up to explain what had happened and asked to move rooms. He basically just laughed. Nick went down to reception and the woman offered us a room at the back of the main reception downstairs with no windows. Not ideal because we could hear every single sound from the reception and when the phone rang it sounded like it was in our room. After Nick came back upstairs, I went down and I was absolutely furious. The stupid bell-boy tried to give me an iron to dry our clothes. I properly went off on one. I’m not usually one to shout but when all the hotel staff are about 18 years old and are just standing there laughing at you and you can’t make yourself understood and you’re tried from a crappy day-trip and back super late, I was ready to explode.
Eventually, I calmed down and accepted that this was the only room they had left and they promised to move us to a room at the front of the hotel the next day and offered to launder all our wet clothes for free. They were true to their word and we were put in a beautiful room last night.
Anyway, rant over. Over the past few days we’ve checked out the cathedral, wandered around crazy markets, had several ice-cream sundaes at Fanny, tried lots of different food and visited the body of Ho Chi Minh. Nobody had warned me about how to dress for this occasion. Just as a note, don’t turn up in t-shirt and shorts.
Although I’ve really enjoyed my time in Vietnam and think Hanoi is fantastic, I’m definitely ready to come home and am looking forward to being a bit chilly and not having beef noodle soup for breakfast.
If you want to learn more about the food that we’ve eaten while we’ve been here then keep your eyes on Nicks blog for future posts.