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Vietnam Days 7 to 9: Exploring Hanoi and Tam Coc

VIETNAM | Friday, 28 December 2007 | Views [830]

On Day 7, I woke up feeling pretty sad because Xai had left that morning. It would be a long time before we would see him again.

I remember the next two days being quite aimless. I think we were quite bored of Hanoi by then. We'd overestimated the amount of things we could do in Hanoi.

June, Lianyi and I went back to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and joined the line to view his corpse, which didn't look very real. I don't doubt that it is, but it does look very waxy from all the chemicals.

I remember the mad scramble we went through trying to get our belongings back after the mausoleum visit. Our bags had been taken away before we entered the mausoleum and somehow we couldn't figure out where to go to get them back. We had until noon to retrieve our belongings, or we wouldn't be able to get them back until the next day. And I remember it was something like 11:45 and we were still dashing around trying to find our stuff. We eventually did find the place where everyone's bags were stored. I can't even remember how and where it was anymore.

And I can't remember what else we did that day, except that we moved into the wonderful and fabulous Hong Ngoc Hotel. It was more expensive than any other accommodation I'd stayed at in any of my travels so far. But in the grand scheme of things, it was still pretty cheap - something like US$20 a night per room. I realised I was too old and too scared of dirt to take budget accommodation anymore. I think that move from Thuy Lam to Hong Ngoc marked my transition from backpacker to flashpacker. I haven't looked back since.

On Day 8, we had really run out of things to do. We ended up walking around the districts outside the Old Quarter, finding new neighbourhoods and at one point even considering watching a movie. It was a little boring but it was still nice to see what Hanoi was like outside the touristy areas. The outer districts are a lot less frenetic than the Old Quarter and more metropolitan. We even came across the business district, which had 100% penetration of wi-fi and coffee chains.

We also visited Hom market, which is filled with about a hundred stalls all selling fabric. June and I both bought some. I have yet to make anything with the fabric I bought.


After Hom market, we took a cab and asked him to bring us to some museums, where Lianyi learnt a lot and I nothing. As usual. I'm a pretty lousy student. One of the museums we visited was the Museum of Ethnography. Yeah, we were that bored.

June left on Day 9, but Lianyi and I still had one day left. We decided to take a day trip to Tam Coc, which the hotel helped to organise for us.

It was quite a lovely trip too. Tam Coc is like Halong Bay except on land. You get on a small sampan with an old Vietnamese lady, and she rows you about for an hour. We actually saw some mountain goats on the cliffs!

Tags: hanoi, tam coc, vietnam

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