Can Anyone take 'No' for an Answer??

Hanoi Travel Blog

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We checked out on time and found a cheap place to eat.  It was looking like we’d be okay for money, and when the tuk tuk showed up at the agreed time, for the agreed price, we knew we’d gotten away with it.  We had exactly enough kip left to afford a cup of coffee and a croissant each – talk about cutting it fine!  Thankfully without a departure tax, we flew off from Laos.


The flight took around fifty minutes, and flew pretty low, just a short distance above the troposphere.  As the day wasn’t overly cloudy, you could see Laos gorgeous countryside completely devoid of infrastructure and residence.  Without man’s interference, the whole scene looked beautiful.  Maybe one day, with the aid of tourism and other sources of income, they will be able to show this place off to the world as it deserves to be.  It’s fair to say I did like Laos.


We touched down in Ha Noi and found it a stark contrast to the laid back life-style of Laos.  Mopeds and constant beeping everywhere made it quite an interesting place at first, but it didn’t take too long before it got a bit over-whelming. With slow progress we eventually made it through to the Old Quarter (where most back-packers stay).  Now we had an issue though.  Where do we stay?  Lori has an absolute skill of just knowing where she is and which way to go on a map; that’s exactly what I needed as I’m average to below at best!  She found our first choice place, but that was full; she found our second choice place, but that turned out to be a building site; so we just gave up and chose to look at random instead.  Some guy approached us asking if we need accommodation, but we told him we’re happy to look around ourselves.  He asked us again a couple of minutes later; and again at the bottom of the street.  Surely ‘No thank you’ means just that?  Anyway, we continued walking up a few more streets and all of a sudden the same chap appeared again!  This time I just told him straight that ‘We are not at all interested, thank you for the offer, but no, we’re going to find our own.  You understand this time?  Thankfully he left us and we quickly found a suitable room without windows....


I felt like a very rich man in Vietnam almost instantaneously, not because I’m from the Western world and can afford my travels, but I went to a cash point and took out 5 million Dong!  I’ve not held 5 million of anything before, well, actually not true.  The Italians had not idea about how rationalise currency when they had the Lira and 5 million Lira might just about buy you a piece of bread, not a whole loaf mind you.


Now we were settled, we attempted to book onto the Halong Bay tour, but all we found were incredibly expensive offers, or the cheaper deals were already sold out!  It turned out to be a national holiday for the anniversary of the liberation of Sai Gon and this meant all the Vietnamese people had also booked onto to the popular tours to Halong Bay and Sa Pa.

  We searched and searched, but did get lucky enough.  We managed to book one at a decent price for three days and two nights tour, which included a night sleeping on a Junk (the boat) and a night in a three-star hotel on Cat Ba island, but it was for Monday.  That left us with three nights in Ha Noi with all those irritating mopeds to deal with. 


You quickly become an expert in crossing roads in Vietnam!  The traffic does not stop for pedestrians at all and so when you see a glimpse of space, you pounce on it.  It doesn’t matter if you are a car, a moped, or a pedestrian!  You’ve got to go for it.  The best tactic I found was to slowly walk forward and try not to stop; oh yes, and to grow eyes in the back and sides of your head! 


We decided to have a look at the bar scene for the night, but there didn’t seem to be a lot going on.  Last orders is supposed to be at 12am, but that is rarely enforced.  None of the bars were particularly lively, so we called it a night.

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photo by: mario26