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WildSide... My trip through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand... Qui audet adipiscitur!!!!

Hanoi

USA | Wednesday, 12 November 2008 | Views [216]

I was in some kind of weird hell for 12hrs...where "Baby Mama" played on a continuous loop with other "okay" movies. My first flight I sat next to an ex-soldier named Hong (who was 65 years old) and she told me these brutal and graphic stories of her war experiences...which I won't share here. I thought it was amazing to hear firsthand about this ugly bit of history from this little old lady.

I was then herded off the plane with the others and corralled off to the customs desk. I am so glad that I had someone pick me up from the airport because I was so delirious with lack of sleep and the time change that I probably would've paid any amount to get to my hotel!!!!

My first day was raucously noisy and I had no problem crossing the road due to my previous training in Thailand! The crosswalk signals are no guarantee that the traffic will stop. Traffic here doesn't obey too many rules...just go-go-go!!! I didn't get far before I was stopped by a tout for a hairdressing shop...a hot stone massage sounded lovely...I followed the guy thru an alley way and up some rickety stairs..yes, I had my doubts, but my back hurt of my massive backpack!!! It was awesome and very cheap!!! I also went back over the course of the next couple of days...I'm a sucker for somebody else washing my hair and massaging my head at the same time.

Hoan Kiem lake is beautiful, with young lovers on benches all around. The area is rife with peddlers though...and they will chase you down the road!! I got an eyeful in the markets and I got my leg slapped by a fish trying to make his getaway!!! Yes, live fish (catfish, snakeheads,& tilapia) and snakes in little pools! The smells are kind of awful really...

I had some very unpleasant experiences with hawkers as well as the cyclo drivers...the tricycle with the seat in the front...I got ripped off right away by some old guy saying that we could decide on a price later...I gave him 5$ and he called me cheap...this old man totally made a scene and I gave him another 5$ to shut him up!! Even when you do decide on a price like a dollar for three blocks they try to make a scene...I was paying my cyclo driver and he tried to do the same thing!!! He even tried to get the bell hop into it...I had to get tough and tell him off!! Not fun.

I went to some great museums like the Vietnamese Fine Arts Museum, where I was lucky enough to see Francisco De Goya's sketches on War that was donated by the Guggenheim Foundation...simply amazing!!!! I also went to the Temple of Literature and got my moto driver as a guide...not as cool as I hoped...I also went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where Uncle Ho is guarded like a hawk, I was searched, my camera had to be checked in, I had to stay in line...very much the Communist society on that point! I got to see the Water Puppets...so much fun!!!! I really wish I had some little kids with me...for that 45min anyway! I got some great footage of my ride through the city...I'd hang on with one hand while shooting with the other..sounds dangerous but its not!!!!

The bugs in Hanoi were kind of creepy...I killed a couple of spiders because it was me or them! Fight to the death with my sandals...I also caught and released a benign looking flying beetle-it was green and was so big that you could hear its wings flapping together when it flew!!! I also killed a gecko (although it was bigger than a regular one) that had the misfortune of being too close to my window when I opened it up quickly...I left a big tip and a yellow post-it pointing to the carnage...cowardly? Maybe.

I left my hotel Sunday evening for Sapa...but more on that next chapter!!!

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