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Hanoi came as a shock initially as we stood outside the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel with out bags. It had only been a two hour plane ride and a relatively easy bus ride into Hanoi. The whole front of the hostel was opened up and the place was bustling with young westerners either checking in sweating and lugging their massive rucksacks about or people drinking and eating, with loud music booming out. I had been a little disappointed that for the first few months of our travels we had bumped  into very few fellow travellers and now there was so many people who were clearly doing the same thing in one place I couldn't work out if I liked it or not. 

We checked in and decided to come down for a beer and quickly struck up convocation with and Australia called Chris. He recommended that we went with him to a small bar round the corner which sold the local home brewed beer called 'bia hoi'. Once arriving we were greeted to a narrow cross roads with motorcycles zooming in all directions and two opposite corners packed with people sitting on little plastic stools up to mini tables drinking the local brew. It was actually very nice and we ordered several round as well as some street food and conversed about each others travels so far, later crossing over the road to sit with the Vietnamese after they ran out of beer on the primarily western side, typical westerners.

The first whole day we went and explored the city which is ruled by the motorcycle. Crossing the road becomes a game of chicken, even more so due to the fact that although a pavement exists, it isn't used for pedestrians, rather parking the mopeds or motorbikes that are not currently choking the roads! Hanoi is a maze of similar looking streets which have have shops spilling out onto the street and a sticky heat that makes you feel a little dirty, but you soon get used to it.




We have done lots of tours and trips through China, but in Hanoi we didn't feel like doing too much but becoming comfortable with our new surroundings. However, one excursion we had repeatedly been recommended was the Halong Bay trip. It's a place that has been shortlisted for the latest list of the 7 natural wonders of the world. 

It took a four our coach ride to get to the Halong port where we picked up our boat. Once aboard we were soon treated to a delicious lunch of all different Vietnamese dishes, many of which were seafood as we cruised for and hour and a half or so to eventually moor up in Halong Bay. Once we had anchored up in the bay we were able to cool off by jumping off the top of the boat. Later on we went canoeing round the bay, exploring the caves and visiting floating fishing villages, arriving back at our boat at dusk to another tasty meal after we had showered up. The evening wasn't as picturesque as the bay and descended into some drunken antics with the guides getting us playing drinking games, the rest of the evening became a bit of a blur, probably due to the long day and all the excitement.










To cut a long story short I woke up in high spirits, had a nice breakfast and went up on top deck to soak up the morning rays. The other boat we were moored next to was continuing the trip further into the islands, bit our boat was heading back with us and a small group of people who had decided one day would be sufficient. I'm not sure if it would have been beneficial for me to have stayed, but due to being one of the last people up the night before my condition deteriorated on the journey back to the port. Boats and four hour coaches do nothing for a hangover, especially one that starts at midday because the initial good feeling when you have woken up is because your still drunk! After such a cultural and educational trip so far it's all a bit blasphemous to be describing getting myself into a bit of a pickle, but it was a funny memory (from what I can remember) and I'm sure you can pull something cultural out of my experience! 

One of the most interesting meals we have had so far on the road was at a grubby looking restaurant, with small plastic chairs and tables. The menu gives you a choice of different plates of raw meat (we chose beef) and vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, aubergine, garlic which you then cook yourself over a hot plate on the middle of the table, it was a really fun experience and also very tasty when put in one of the fresh rolls that they offer. 

We bought from our hostel in Hanoi a bus ticket with four stops on it that can be used within a month heading south for the equivalent of about £30, you can't go wrong, next stop Hue!

Posted by Christian25 07:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged travel vietnam asia

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