off we go! travel blog

Ha Noi streetlife


And more

Well, we did have the compartment to ourselves which the journey a bit easier. It meant I could snore uninhibited! The train journey was just shy of 15 hours, so it did drag a bit, but most of the time we slept or just lay there. Breakfast was dragon fruit, Oreo cookies and Pepsi! - very nutritious (?) but seemed to fit the bill.

We were met at Ha Noi station by a young man from the hotel, who, holding a placard with my name on it spotted us before the train came to a halt and ran down the track to meet us. He jumped aboard, shook hands and grabbed our bags before we could catch our collective breath. He marched us out of the station and summoned a taxi, not a small taxi, several were rejected, but a large one, so our bags could go in the boot. On arrival, he jumped out and whisked our bags up to our room, while we were getting out of the cab, paying and walking into the hotel. This hotel was, again, very much better than we thought, very smart and clean. Several of the hotels we stayed in, in different cities, were very proud of their Trip Advisor status and were keen for us to recommend them, this one was no exception.

After freshening up we ventured into Ha Noi, our hotel was in the Old Quarter and traffic was horrendous! bikes buzzing all around us and everyone sounding their horn; every two seconds. It was crazy, but great fun. It was easier to walk in the road than the pavement as it was full of parked bikes. No-one seemed to mind, they just drove around us. No-one seems to follow any discernible road/lane discipline, roundabouts are ignored, as are red lights and pedestrian crossings. You just take your life in your hands and walk. We didn't see any accidents or dented cars or bikes, so whatever they do does work.

After a disappointing pho ga (chicken and noodle soup) lunch we wandered off to see the old citadel. It wasn't clear from our map where the entrance was so we walked for ages around it until at last we found it. The complex was full of university students, all in their finery for graduation day. Everyone was having a good time and they were all there for photo-shoots at various locations around the old buildings. So, hats thrown into the air, cheering, various formations, couples and singles, all posing. The buildings themselves were a bit of an anticlimax, they were only built within the last 100 years or so, but there were archeological diggings that had discovered the remains of building going back 1,300 years. Also on site was the building, built specially for the purpose, that housed the supreme command post for the North Vietnamese during the conflict with the Americans. The walls were a metre thick and there was an extensive underground bunker complex. The meeting room table had name plates of the command group, including General Giap.

Back to the hotel, dinner then bed; an early start tomorrow, to join a boat cruise around Halong bay.

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