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Hanoi-ing Hotel Manager

Hanoi Travel Blog

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Conical hats and tourists don't mix

The dreaded overnight bus to Hanoi wasn't anywhere near as uncomfortable as I imagined it would be. I actually managed to sleep for a large chunk of it. On the DMZ tour we ate twice, believe it or not, at that rubbish restaurant called Me Kong - the food's standard was only worsened by the pitiful portion size that even the Borrowers would have found insulting. So we found it hilarious when we pulled up there on the way up to Hanoi for a third time within the last 23 hours. Luckily, we had eaten already, otherwise the joke would have completely backfired.

Despite getting some sleep, we still had to deal with the chaos that is Hanoi at God-knows-what time in the morning.

Communist Propaganda for the passers-by
Agreeing to stay at the hotel that we were transferred from the coach to, the hoteliers quickly buzzed round us, trying to plan out our stay in Hanoi in fine detail - primarily, of course, because they make a lot of money from commission from the companies who they sign us up with. Having wanted to take a trip up to the hills of northern Vietnam, I kept my ears open to what was on offer, but knew that I would feel happier researching it myself and finding a company I felt comfortable with.

One thing that boggles the mind in Vietnam is the seemingly non-existant copyright laws. Sinh Cafe, for example, one of the original tour operators in Vietnam, now has many imposter companies trading under the same name, acting as the original so that unsuspecting tourists use them instead of the original.

Water Puppets in action
So, many times walking down a road in Hanoi, you see Sinh Cafes - same logo, same setup - which are actually nothing more than counterfeits. And it happens with all sorts of companies, too. It must do the original companies' heads in.

I found a company that did some good trekking into Sapa and told them I would book up later once I had checked funds. When I arrived at my hostel, Michael - he certainly didn't look like a Michael - the hotel manager, who, let's just say, I didn't get on with, explicitly questioned why I would book with someone else when his was cheaper and he had told me about his first. I told him that I didn't like booking through hotels cos they were after commision without caring for quality, but he was having none of it.

Bit of bamboo
I told him that hotels should stick to hotel rooms and let tour operators handle the tours, telling him that, in the same way, just because supermarkets sell clothes, it doesn't mean everyone buys them there. He was the kind of guy that couldn't have an argument without trying to shout you down, so once I was done arguing with him, I retreated to my room. Later on he gave me the silent treatment, and the next day I no longer had the choice of eggs for breakfast I had the previous day; only bread.

The usual suspects met up that night to see a show at the Water Puppet Theatre. Not understanding a word of Vietnamese, I didn't have a clue what was going on, but the show was still an interesting spectacle. Then, still with a tiny bit of room in our stomachs even after eating a wonderful Indian meal earlier on, what better way to plug the gap than with a refreshing Fanny ice cream? Yum.

St Joseph's Cathedral
It's the name of the shop, by the way.

Michael again tried to stir the ashes of our previous argument the next morning, so I just resorted to non-sensical replies (to him, anyway) to his constant, "I don't understand"-type comments; saying things like, "I can't understand it, either," or "Horses for courses" or "Never mind. Plenty more fish in the sea. Dry your eyes." I was relieved to check out of my hostel the following day and have a proper explore of Hanoi. Starting off at Hoan Kiem Lake, I crossed Huc Bridge to get to Ngoc Son Temple, before joining the other tourists who were queing up to photograph the Martyr's Monument. Heading into the more chaotic part of town, the Old Quarter, I took a walk through the market, where I bought some spring rolls that made the ones I had previously ordered in restaurants seem disgraceful, especially at about 2p each.

Hoan Kiem Lake
I got a glimpse of blacksmiths, box makers and gravestone artisans at work, before a quick detour to St Joseph's Cathedral, then headed back towards the lake to find some lunch. Recently, I had been paying the extra for air-con and an English-speaking waitress, choosing the more expensive cafes instead, but this time I ate at one of the traditional 'Pho' road-side hole in the walls. I got a much tastier meal for small change, so later on I spent the savings on another cheeky ice cream by the lake.

dan2105 says:
Quiet, you.
Posted on: Jun 23, 2007
warden says:
I thought you didn`t like eggs?
Posted on: Jun 21, 2007
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Conical hats and tourists dont mix
Conical hats and tourists don't mix
Communist Propaganda for the passe…
Communist Propaganda for the pass…
Water Puppets in action
Water Puppets in action
Bit of bamboo
Bit of bamboo
St Josephs Cathedral
St Joseph's Cathedral
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake
Musical interlude at the Water Pup…
Musical interlude at the Water Pu…
Theyre not real!
They're not real!
100% natural Fanny
100% natural Fanny
Martyrs Monument
Martyr's Monument
Huc Bridge
Huc Bridge
Making graves
Making graves
Yeah, we both found our shirts in …
Yeah, we both found our shirts in…
The Old Quarter
The Old Quarter
Heavy load
Heavy load
High-street parking
High-street parking
Hanoi
photo by: mario26