Summer of '69

Hanoi Travel Blog

 › entry 17 of 19 › view all entries

4am is a bad time to arrive anywhere and Hanoi is no exception.  My mood is not improved when our 1st choice hotel is shut-up and when we wake the night security find that they have no rooms free until the current guests check out. A guy waiting with his motrocycle near the hotel  offers us a room at his hotel 2 blocks away and we take him up on the offer.  The room is good but the hotel a little run-down and is on Hang Ga one of the busier streets in the old quarter.

After some welcome rest we breakfast and walk through the old quarter of the city, more to get our bearings than to see anything in particular. 

We had heard much about Hanoi and the old quarter and I had imagined a town a little like Prague.

  In reality it is more like Naples or Tunis, a cluster of arrow streets packed with traffic.  The sound of motorcycle horns is everywhere.  Initial impressions are not helped by the weather which is cool, damp and grey.

We make a quick decision to head tomorrow for Halong Bay and do some hasty research through the many travel agents offering tours to the bay.   Our initial idea had been to catch a bus to the coast and buy a boat ticket at Halong City, but it is impossible to find a bus ticket and the tours are good value.  We had heard many stories of tours not living up to promises so go for the cheap 3 day tour on the reasoning that if we expect something basic we are unlikely to be disappointed.


We also organise our travel into China.  There is a train twice a week to Nanning, but the one we want to catch is full and the lady at the railway office does not advise us to take the local train ("I want something better for you" she says) and recommends a bus to Nanning.  We book a ticket through a travel agent; the upside is that it is both quicker than the train and about half the price.

In the eveing we try out the local beer Hoi bars that seem to be at just about every cross roads.  Though the bars are little more than chairs in the street the beer tastes good and at 3000 Dong a glass fantastically cheap.  For dinner we eat at Restaurant 69 which serves good French style food.  

I'm beginning to warm to Hanoi but for now it's time to hit the coast and with luck a good beach and some sunshine.


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photo by: mario26