well what can i say. this is definitely an experience. no bad moments per say, but stupid ones on our part. :)
met aoife in the airport in heathrow, we were leaving from the same terminal and close to the same time. after getting lunch, we had a look around dutyfree. only bought water. :) when it came time to get to our flights we walked together towards our gates and it ended up our gates were right beside each other. i could see aoifes plane out the window when i boarded. i was on one of those double decker planes where all the superior class was upstairs. i would love to see what it looked like.
flight over was long but not that bad! especially for a 14 hour flight. didn't sleep much and tried learning Vietnamese on the plane. didn't work very well forgot everything again. when i arrived in hanoi, you could feel the heat right away and we were told when we got there that the temp was 27 degrees. and it wasn't even mid day!
i was afraid i wouldn't see my bag as i hadn't seen it since dublin. but it came out fast enough and all i had to do then was wait for aoife to arrive. she came out about a half an hour later and we proceeded to figure out how to get to hanoi. we decided to get the local bus in as we heard about taxis tended to rip off tourists. we found out where we had to wait and when our bus came we had to jump on before it left without us :) it was really cheap only like 5000 dong which is like 20c so we felt good about it. you could tell we were tourists not only cause of our white legs because we (plus another guy we just met (shay pronounced shy)) were the only ones sitting on the side of the bus were the sun was coming in.
feeling pretty good on the bus that we started off quite well. no mishaps as yet. when a guy came onto our bus and started asking us did we have a hotel. aoife had booked one before we came over so we were all good but shay hadn't and the guy was trying to say that he will help him to get to a hotel and did he have one in mind. when shay said which one, he says his sister works there and would bring him. when we got off the bus, aoife and i went to find a taxi. shay said that he's hotel was close to ours and did we want to share. which sounded good ,to split the cost. the guy from the bus proceeded to come with us talking to shay. getting the taxi to the hotel you would think would be easy instead we got dropped off at a different hotel in a different location. which we didn't notice till after the taxi was gone with shay. we got screwed. lesson 1
good thing we got a map from the airport so we made our way through the maze like streets of hanoi to try and find our hotel. with the heat beating down on us. i have never sweated so much before in my life. when we eventually found our hotel hoping for a shower and to leave our bags down. we were told the water was being fixed in our room and we would have to stay at a sister hotel down the road. not what we wanted to hear. but we finally got a room and got our shower. it felt so great.
and needless to say we didn't want to do much after that. so we decided to head off to the old quarter to find somewhere to eat. while trying to find somewhere to eat, we saw shay sitting at an outdoor local restaurant. it was funny to run into him like that. so we ended up sitting beside him for dinner eating sticky rice and chicken i hope :) we found out shay was Israeli. and he also got brought to the wrong hotel. well we definitely learned our lesson there. leaving shay and making arrangements for him to find our hotel and go cycling together. we head off to bed. what a first day in hanoi.
wed- after waking up the next morning and leaving our bags at our original hotel, we set off on a walking tour of hanoi, that was in aoifes travel book. it brought us all around the old quarter. the streets were interesting, some were smelly, some were colourful and some were mad busy. we got to see the shoe market, (doesn't just sell shoes) which is a 3 or 4 story market, with just enough room for one person to walk down between the stalls. watch out for the girls with the 2 baskets on their shoulders. aoife got one left on her shoulder and while i was talking a picture of her, i got one left on my shoulder. and while the girl was taking a picture of me i got another left on the other shoulder. got a cool picture out of it but they definitely got more money out of me than i would have liked as i was still trying to get used to the exchange rate. lesson number 2
we headed back to the hotel to freshen up then to the train station to get our overnight sleeper tickets for thursday night to lao cai to go to sapa. we tried to go to the water puppet show but it was all sold out. so we got tickets for thursday intead. and as it was starting to rain, like good irish girls we went for a few drinks!
thurs- after waking late, we checked out of hotel and
asked them to hold our bags, while we went sight seeing. as our train
wasn't till 10 that night. we went and had lunch at koto (got a cool
t-shirt) and went to see the temple of literature. i would highly
recommend it even just for the bonsai trees. then it was on to the
balancing pagoda and the mausoleum, where we just missed the changing
of the guards. well actually we saw the guards and took photos of them
walking but didn't link it with the changing of the guards. duh.
on the way back to the old quarter, we stop at a cafe to rest our feet and this is where lesson 3 comes in. always make sure you just erase one photo and not all of them. yes i erased my photos! i couldn't believe it i felt like crying. i'm just glad it was only 2 days in and not 2 months but i was so upset. actually i'm surprised in did'nt cry.
well we made it to the water puppet show and it was really good, very enjoyable. i would definitely recommend it. i think if you come to hanoi you have to go see it.
all we had left was to get dinner before picking up our bags and heading off for our train. sapa here we come!