first stop

Hanoi Travel Blog

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Well I got here safely! The flight from Bangkok to Hanoi was so empty lots of us had a row of 4 seats to ourselves.  It's a shame it wasn't like that for the 12 hour flight from London!  My taxi ride to my hotel was an insight into the Vietnamese attitude to road travel - if you're behind someone that you want to overtake, sit on their bumper and flash your lights until they move; everytime you pass a scooter (of which there are hundreds, thousands even, and often with 3 people on 1) you should beep to let them know you're there - this is probably why i have a headache as all you can hear, day and night, is those pathetic high pitched scooter horns.  Also don't stop for pedestrians.  This makes crossing the road (even on a zebra crossing) a daunting experience at first, but I reckon I've got the hang of it - step on to the road no matter how many scooters/ cars are coming, walk slowly in a straight line and dont go backwards.  The traffic should just weave around you..if you're lucky.  I reckon its possible to do it with your eyes closed but I have yet to try it.

Its also INCREDIBLY humid here, and there is no breeze so no relief from the heat - I'm trying my hardest not to complain as I know it has not been too nice back home, but thought I'd just let you know!  It doesn't help that you cannot drink the tap water here as I am forever bartering for water, and at the rate I drink I think I'm going to be very poor soon. I had free time yesterday to have a look around Hanoi city, so I decided to do the walking tour recommended by my travel guidebook.  I walked to the starting point - which was quite a long way but I wanted to see the people and the shops along the way - and of course practice crossing the road.  I arrived at a lake in the middle-eastern side of the city, where there is a bright red bridge crossing to a temple on an island in the lake.  To cut a long story short, this is where I got my NEW camera stolen : ( not a great start to my trip AT ALL.  After filing a police report (with the help of a very nice vietnamese guy who spoke a little english), I went back to the hotel very annoyed.  Not before having a look around the temple though, where there is the preserved body of a massive tortoise that was killed when a bomb was dropped into the lake by Americans during the war.  After I'd calmed down, I went round the corner for lunch and met 2 ladies from Kent.  I spent the afternoon at the temple of Literature - Vietnam's first university, which consists of 4 beautiful courtyards and a small shrine.  It was very relaxing looking at the candles and smelling the insence, you just had to block out the noisy traffic!

At 6pm I met the group and our leader Kien, a native.  There are 10 of us, 5 girls and 5 guys who are all very nice.  There is a Polish guy (Lukas) and a Belgian (Salvator) who are a gay couple living in Ireland - these two are the entertainment! The oldest is Alice (28) from Clapham, and I'm the youngest.  There are two 20 year old girls from Cambridge Uni (Hannah and Heather) and Michi, a 22 yr old girl from Tokyo.  Sebastian is from Dortmund in Germany, and there are two 22 year old guys from the West Midlands (Henry and Simon).  I don't think we could be any more different!  It's good because we always have so much to talk about.  After the meeting Kien took us out for a proper Vietnamese meal and then a few of us went for a drink afterwards.  I got to bed around 11.15.

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photo by: mario26