Wednesday – Last few days in Hanoi

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.

Water Buffalo in Hoa Lo

Tam Coc Vietnam

Cycling in Tam Coc Vietnam
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.

Market in Hanoi Vietnam

Market in Hanoi Vietnam

Bun Cha street food in Hanoi Vietnam

Cafe Dudu in Hanoi Vietnam

Egg and rice dish street food Hanoi Vietnam

House in Hanoi Vietnam

Street food in Hanoi Vietnam

Wednesday – Pho & Cafe Pho Co

Okay, okay, so I realise these posts will be mainly about food. To be honest, we didn’t really do a great deal yesterday. Just wandered around eating stuff. We went over to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum again but it was shut again. I can’t work out what we’re doing wrong! Oh well, maybe we’ll manage to get there at the right time next week! While we were there we did walk around the garden bit there though which had his house and stuff in. We didn’t take any photos because it wasn’t that interesting.

So, to start the day we left the hotel on a hunt for Pho for breakfast and found it at a cool street food stall. The photo is of Nick because all the pictures of me eating it are a bit dreadful. After that we walked to Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and wandered around the gardens. Nick stopped off for a bit of Bun Cha on the walk back to the Old Quarter.

Pho for breakfast on the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

Pho in Vietnam
Walking the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Hanoi, Vietnam

Streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

Bun Cha, Hanoi, Vietnam

We found a really cool hidden bar with a great view of the lake called Cafe Pho Co. We’ve discovered that the secret to finding the best bars are to keep an eye out for tiny signs above long dark corridors and they usually lead to the best places! It’s quite exciting really because you’ve got no idea where you’re going to end up when you’re edging cautiously up an ominous alley!

Cafe Pho Co, Hanoi, Vietnam

Cafe Pho Co, Hanoi, Vietnam

Cafe Pho Co, Hanoi, Vietnam

Cafe Pho Co, Hanoi, Vietnam

I made it my mission to eat a steamed bun today. I’m a massive fan of Spirited Away and this steamed bun looks just like the food they tuck into which made me smile like a child. Yes, my hair is a frizzy humid mess. Following that we found another secret bar that I couldn’t take photos off because it was too dark. We had a nice time in there though. I ordered a fruit juice and pointed to pineapple. Pineapple was on the menu twice and I just went for the bottom one because they looked the same to me. When it arrived it was clearly not pineapple and me & Nick spent half an hour trying to guess what on earth it was (we guessed grass, potato, melon with the skin on….). We couldn’t work it out so Nick ended up trying to draw a picture of a pineapple for the guy working there and it all got very confusing. Luckily, in the end, one of the girls there had internet on her iPhone and translated the word for us. Turns out it was guava.

Steamed bun, Hanoi, Vietnam

After a little afternoon snooze we headed back out to Bia Hoi corner for some beers. The beer here is homemade and about 15p a pint so Nick is a very happy person. We’ve met some nice people at this corner as it’s where a lot of the travellers hang out.

Bia Hoi corner, Hanoi, Vietnam

We’re off to Halong Bay in the morning and I can’t wait! I’m so excited! I love being on a boat! And it looks absolutely beautiful 🙂

 

 

 

Tuesday – Exploring Hanoi & war museum

Hello!

Blogging from Hanoi now – I’ll try and make it short and not too photo-heavy! For some reason I can’t get on Facebook on the laptop but I can in the lobby. Can’t be bothered to go downstairs though.

So, had a super long journey! Arrived at the airport 12pm Saturday night, flight to Paris was at 7am Sunday morning so we slept as much as we could in the airport. Then our flight to Paris got made earlier because of striking so we ended up being stuck at Charles de Galle for 4 hours – but they had amazing lounge chair things and playstations there so not all bad! Then the 11 hour flight to Hanoi. It was the best flight ever! I would definitely recommend Vietnam Airlines!

Got to the hotel about 8am and got in the room at 10am. Slept until 3pm. Went out for a bit of exploring. Walked around the lake, got a drink and watched the crazy traffic below!

 

Hanoi, Vietnam

Then we wandered back to the hotel and Nick ate some random street food outside called Bun Mien. It was like noodles and duck and some sort of liver, which he reckoned was horse….yuck! I munched on some prawn crackers and Oreos, I wasn’t ready for the crazy stuff yet!

bun mien, hanoi, vietnam street food

bun mien, hanoi, vietnam, street food

Went to sleep about 9pm. Woke up at 2am. Stayed up for 2 hours watching stupid videos on Youtube then fell asleep again about 4am. Woke up at 11am. Jet-lag is kicking our arse!

After waking up we booked our trip to Halong bay for Thursday and went adventuring. We headed over to the West Lake area. There wasn’t really much there but it was nice to see a different area of the city. Stopped for a drink and an ice-cream. Then we went past the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh but it was closed. Round the corner we found the Hanoi war museum which was fascinating. They had loads of old planes and helicopters and wreckage that they’d captured from the Americans. We sat in a chinook which had a bloody great bullet hole in the windscreen. It was kinda freaky.

walking around hanoi, vietnam

guy carrying a painting on a motorbike, hanoi, vietnam

Hanoi war museum, vietnam

chinook, Hanoi war museum, vietnam

Railway line, Hanoi, Vietnam

After that we went back to the Old Quarter to Hoan Kiem Lake and found Fanny ice-cream where I had my second ice-cream of the day in the form of a huge caramel sundae. Then we headed over to the Metropole hotel which is by far the poshest and most expensive hotel in the city. It was built in 1901 and lots of famous people have stayed there over the years including Charlie Chaplin. It was fantastic. We stopped in for cocktails and lazed by the pool (in the dark). It was beautiful. It also had an Hermes, a Cartier and a Louis Vuitton 🙂

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

the pool at the Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam

The poolside bar at the Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam

Then more exploring the streets to try and find some dinner. We perched down on a couple of low stools to tuck into some Bun Cha. Bun Cha is like barbecued pork balls with noodles. Which would have been great, except it was cold. I have no idea if it’s meant to be cold. But it made it weird.

Bun cha, Hanoi, Vietnam street food

Now we’re back in the hotel room chilling out. We got some pirate DVDs off a guy so have Bad Teacher and Arthur to watch. We tried to watch Bridesmaids last night and although it was a perfect picture, the sound was a bit too quiet.

Hope you’re all okay 🙂 x