Monday 21st September 2015
We’d returned to Hanoi on Saturday from Ha Long Bay for one night, and after having spent a couple of hours in the roof top pool, we ventured out into the streets! Bloody hell!!!! It was absolutely manic! It seemed that every person in Vietnam had come out on their mopeds to ride around for the night! Very common were families of 4 on one bike! We have never, ever seen anything like it! We both agreed that this was the maddest, craziest and greatest city we’d been to this year! Even more so than La Paz! What a night! Almost impossible to describe, but very briefly, I had the greatest vegetable curry I’ve ever tasted (beer still 29p), we visited the biggest, busiest, most chaotic night market we’ve ever seen (I haggled a G Shock watch down to £6, but wouldn’t buy it as I still thought that was too much!) and we finished with a last beer on the roof terrace of our hotel on the 13th floor looking down at it all. Superb.
On Sunday we had a lazy morning, luxuriating in the air con, before going out into the inferno-like heat and humidity for lunch. I’d also decided I needed new t shirts, as mine were looking a bit grubby after nine months travelling. Seeing as I have no fashion sense, I went for four identical t shirts in different colours (you’ll no doubt spot these very easily in future photos) and managed to bargain down from an initial asking price of 1,800,000 Dong to 425,000 Dong, so 25% of the price. Mind you, even then I felt I was being ripped off, but I couldn’t be arsed arguing any more, and I needed the t shirts!
Sunday evening saw us heading for the bus which was taking us to Hué. This is a 14hr journey. We were booked onto a sleeper bus, but had never imagined that it would be like this! A single decker bus, with three lines of bunk beds all along it! These bunks had been made for Vietnamese people, so anyone over 4′ tall and 8″ wide was going to have a bad time! It was difficult for me, so god knows how Charlotte got her arse into the seat!! 😉😉😉 (I have been warned by my dad to stop taking the mickey out of Cha’s bum, but I just can’t help it…..) It was like getting into a bob sleigh! Bloody hell! However, surprisingly, all went quite well, and with the aid of music and books I had quite a good night (Book- Ken Follett’s Winter of The World, Music – David Gilmour’s new album Rattle and Lock, Pink Floyd The Endless River, Snarky Puppy Bring Us The Bright, Rodriguez Searching For Sugarman). Managed a few hours of decent sleep. *******I would like it to be noted that, due to no onboard toilets, I sacrificed any thought of beer, and had my SECOND alcohol free day of this year!!!*********
Hué. Another amazing place. And the temperature must be at least 148 degrees!!!! It’s got huge history and was a massive turning point in the American – Vietnamese War in the Tet Offensive of 1968. This was a three week long battle that the Americans won, but at enormous human cost (to both sides), and was the realisation for many Americans that they were wrongly sticking their noses into other people’s business. For me, it’s fascinating history, and I find it absolutely extraordinary to know that in recent history this was a war zone, where I’m wandering around now. We’re visiting the Citadel and The Purple Forbidden City tomorrow, which are still riddled with the destructive effects of the war.
I have to say that I love Vietnam. Now, I know I say this about everywhere, but because of that I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I can genuinely say now that for me, it’s the most fascinating country I’ve been to this year. Maybe not best, nor most beautiful, but definitely most fascinating. And the service we’ve had in hotels, bars, restaurants and tours is easily the best we’ve had anywhere. The staff cannot do enough for you, and are the friendliest and outwardly happiest people we’ve come across, yet they’re probably working for the smallest wages. Vietnam goes to the top of my list!!! And did I mention that the beer’s cheap???? And we had 10 bottles this aft for under 3 quid??? 😀😀
Monday 21st September 2015