We had two choices on how to get to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. We could either take a train that would take over TWELVE hours at £26pp! OR, we could fly and the journey in the air would only take about ONE and a half for £50pp. Apparently, the train had some nice views. But seeing as Stef’s last journey was not that great, it was not a tough choice to make…
Flights booked, we got a taxi to the airport and a flight out of there with a nice sunset as a leaving gift.
We landed to a very unpleasant surprise. It was FREEZING! For the first time in nearly 3 months, we wore our fleeces and coats! A minibus picked us up from the airport and took us as close as it could to our hotel. We were staying at the Hanoi Romance Hotel. Don’t let the name fool you, it didn’t have heart shaped beds or mirrored ceilings… it was situated down a little alleyway. It didn’t look promising but as we neared it, the bellboy opened the door for us and it turned out to be one of the nicest hotels we’d been in. Everything was clean and new looking. The staff were very friendly and they even carried our bags to our room. The room was lovely and included fast Wi-Fi and breakfast. All for £17 a night!
The next day, we wondered around the town – if anything, it had got colder! We were staying in the Old District, which is one of the main towns, especially for the tourists. It had a massive lake in the middle so we decided to walk around that. The roads were manic with traffic. Mopeds were all over the place. There are 8 million people in the city – with 5 million bikes! We learnt one valuable tip for crossing the roads here – just start walking across – don’t look and don’t stop. At first we were a bit dubious but we tried it and it actually worked! The mopeds and cars just go around you. They don’t even beep their horns. It’s amazing!
It took us about an hour to walk around the lake and we got to a section with a bridge leading to a very small island. It was busy with people so we decided to follow. It was about 70p each for entry but we had no idea as to what we were paying for! We crossed the bridge to find it was the Ngoc Son Temple. It was rammed. There was a giant fake turtle and a wooden horse, which seemed quite random. A few photos taken and we headed to the next stop.
The Maison Centrale. It is an old prison turned museum. It housed many American prisoners of war. They had photos of the Americans at the prison, however, they all looked rather happy and enjoying themselves. There was one photo where two of them were playing chess and they were in fits of laughter. I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen a chess game that funny! It all seemed a bit set up. They also had a guillotine and various other prison related bits and bobs to look at.
On the way back to our hotel we saw the biggest Alaskan crabs we had ever seen. Ginormous they were. They were in a restaurant (not eating at a table) but we walked in so I could take Stef’s photo for size comparison. As we were leaving, another couple came in to do the same!
Later that night, we saw the Thang Long Water Puppet Show. It had won all sorts of awards and had even travelled the world. Tickets were £3 so we couldn’t really turn that down. Not knowing what to expect, we took our seats in front of a stage. I say stage; it was a pool with a band next to it.
The women started singing and the narrator started talking. All in Vietnamese! We didn’t have a clue what they were saying and as most of the audience looked like they were tourists as well, they probably didn’t either!
It was one of the most bizarre things we had ever seen. Little wooden puppets running around on top of the water controlled by long sticks under the water. They had different scenes. But still, we had no clue as to what was going on. There were dragons spitting water, fish jumping about and women with candles on their heads! It was quite fun to watch and lasted about an hour. It’s hard to really explain so I have had to post a video!