Hanoi- Lakes, public urination and the land of the long stare
Jan 19, 2005
|Hanoi- Capital of the peoples socialist republic of Vietnam.
We flew across from Bangkok with a mad hate for Tuk Tuks and the fact we had to pay twenty bucks to get out of the place.
We got chatting to an American guy in the same row as us who was pretty cool and as it turns out is the owner of an offshore/onshore commissiong company that operates through south east asia. And he acts as a hirer for offshore medical and safety personnel. He was on his way to visit his vietnamese wife and child.
Lesson number 1- Always talk to people you are travelling with. It pays as you will see.
So we get into Hanoi airport after some dodgy Thai cabernet paint stripper wine at about 8pm.
The airpot is amazing. Think of every futuristic spy movie you have ever seen. This place is full of soldiers in military uniform all standing at set points. The whole airport is made of polished black marble and thier is no duty free, drink stand or anything. Just soldiers, facial heat scanners and rigid passport control.Once again we arrive in a foriegn city with our tour plans stuffed up.
Our transfer which was booked buy me for the 14th was booked by the travel agent on the 16th.
So here we are, stuck in Hanoi at night with no transport, no local money and no idea where the hell we are.
Thank god for ciggarettes! Turns out the American guy(Carl)smokes and is waitning casually outside the door when we run out. He gladly offer us a lift and his wife (Huyen) just about falls over herself to help us with anything we want.
So there are five of us (her brother was) cramped into the most elegant Daewoo I have ever seen and begin our introduction into Vietnames driving.
Basically it is this. Everyone drives (or is meant to) on the right. There is no give way rule. You merely merge with or go straight through side traffic. At an intersection you merely beep your horn and try to weave through all the other traffic.
There are no pedestrian crossings. You simply walk onto the road slowly and never stop walking. The only hard and fast rule is that trucks and buses don't stop.
So we egt to the hotel and start melting into Vietnam.
It is more pleasant than Thailand in some ways. Whilst the people are not smiling as much, there are a few less hassles.
The food is cheap and edible. Our first real meal cost us $3 aust which was great.
We met up withour tour group and did a tour of the city- Hanoi Hilton prison, Ho Chi Minhs tomb and house and few other sensational examples of outright communist propoganda- Nice on comerades.
The tour group is pretty cool. We sat around at a shop on a street corner paying 13cents a beer right out of a keg on the cement floor.
I had two glasses and felt sick for a day-Not good.
We caught the overnight train which turned out pretty messy. We have joined up with a guy named Chris who is like me. We drank 1 litre of bourbon on the sleeper train and ran amok. every day on the tour is endin up as a party and the hangovrs are starting to pile up.
We will write more tonight.
Miss you guys
Mick and Kirst