Saturday, April 12, 2014

Motorcycle Madness

Day 8 … On to Hanoi

Finally a sleep in, even just a little one.. a late-ish breakfast and pick up at 9am for the trip to the airport.  Another of those ‘only in Vietnam’ moments … there is only one plane on the tarmac when we are due to board, it’s about 50m from the terminal building.  In KL you can walk for several hundred metres from terminal to plane and no-one bothers (except for the odd overweight American) but in Vietnam they bus you between the terminal and the plane!

We were met at the airport by the lovely man from HalongSapa tours (we’d booked our Halong Bay trip and train tickets to Sapa through this small company and the pick-up was a freebie).  It took about 50minutes to drive from the airport to our hotel … the lovely Artisan Hotel, just half a block from the Hoan Kiem Lake and right on the edge of the Old Quarter – couldn’t have picked a better location if we’d tried.

After check-in and depositing of laundry we wandered out to explore the Old Quarter.  Not much has changed in the decade since we were last here … except the sheer volume of traffic – mostly motorbikes.  We thought the traffic in HCMC was crazy – but I can tell you, it has nothing on Hanoi. 

A few hours dawdling up and down the likes of Hang Bac (isn’t that the coolest street name ever) Hang Ma, and Hang Duong through places like haberdashery street, before coming back for a bit of a rest.


Hanoi has a night market that we were looking forward to exploring. We got to the ‘area’ before the stalls were set up so went off in search of some dinner.  The 'Lucky’ restaurant wasn’t so lucky and we had probably our worst meal of the trip so far – tasteless!

We knew the night market was crowded but were not prepared for the mayhem – thousands of people, fortunately everyone seemed to be happy to go the same direction – up one side and back down the other- at snails pace.  Hunting for tee shirts for Tony proved to be a challenge – he’s not exactly a big bloke but finding something to fit was almost impossible…. unless he wanted tacky souvenir type shirts or ones suitable for a teenager emblazoned with some stupid logo. Success finally, just as we were about to admit defeat.

The traffic at the big fountain round-about was manic but we bravely soldiered on and made it across the road intact.  Having read on trip advisor about the potential pick-pockets etc in the night market I chose to go out tonight without the camera – I wish I hadn’t.

A full day to explore some more of this bustling city tomorrow before the night train to Sapa.  Not sure if I will be able to get any internet tomorrow afternoon so the next part of our adventure may be posted on Monday night from Sapa.

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