Day of productivity
Hanoi Travel Blog› entry 36 of 55 › view all entries
Very little sleep, unfortunately. The old man sleeping opposite me was snoring from the moment we set off, whilst the guy below him was doing the same, except forgetting to breath out for 8 hours, so there was a constant gargling sound going on. The train gets into Hanoi at 4:30AM, and we get a taxi to the Elizabeth hotel, in the vain hope that:- a) It's open. and b) It has some rooms. Distressingly, a) is not an option, so we are left wandering around a ghost town with zombies/drunkards/yabbaheads. We find a hotel eventually, but no rooms. However, the owner is friendly and calls around, and gets us a room at Van Minh on Hang Bac Street. $30 a night, must be good.
It's not. I think there's a vague possibility that they MAY, just MAY have jacked the prices up a wee bit, when they realised we had nowhere else to go. Tad sceptical, but there you go...the room is basic, the a/c doesn't seem to work, and the walls are grimy. Still, it's a bed, and it's slept in. After more food at Le Pub, we book our Halong Bay tour! After guaranteeing we would look around, we book at the first place we come to, the Kangaroo Cafe. It's a 2 day, 1 night tour for $35, which includes cave-looking (?), kayaking and swimming. And food, and a night on the boat, so pretty good...
The next productive thing we do is to book the water puppets show for 6:30PM today. The water puppets are a Vietnamese institution, and not to be missed whilst in Hanoi. It's 40,000d for a ticket near the front, though our sexuality is brought into question by a fat American woman, who seemed to be telling everyone in the world about herself. We told her we were gay, and she laughed. Insistent, she stopped talking. To us.
Also, we book our flight out of Vietnam! It's into Vientiane, the capital of Laos, from Hanoi airport on the 6 November at 8:25AM. The cost is $140, but includes the departure tax of $14, and it's a Lao Airlines/Vietnam Air CodeShare, and it's a relief to sort all this out. Our place is too good to stay at, so we book a place back at the Elizabeth for tomorrow night, as we are now considered family. The price remains the same though.
The evening starts at the river bar, and then on to the puppets. It's a really good show, which starts off with some traditional Vietnamese music, with some instruments that I can't even begin to describe either how they work, or what they look like. From there, there are 13 scenes of Vietnamese life and history acted out by these puppets in a pool, by 7 very skilled puppeteers. It's extremely clever, with some complex synchronization, and colourful puppets. The music is also played along with the stories, to create a more intimate story. All in all, an essential thing to do in Hanoi.
After some spicy food at Cafe Highest, we hit a few pubs, where we get down to some pool. That is until a little kid comes and puts all the balls in the pockets. We don't really mind, but then he wants to play top trumps with us...I lose straight away, so Burg and this kid play, whilst his alcoholic mother watches on. After a while, we have had enough, so leave to go to bed, where our laundry is ready and waiting for us...gotta love Van Minh!