After visiting some of Beijing’s main tourist sites I decided to go to Vietnam for my last trip on exchange. First stop: Hanoi!!!
To get to Vietnam we took a flight that had an overnight layover in Guangzhou. We arrived late in the evening and therefore the airport was basically empty. Therefore, because I had a busy schedule set out for our trip I wanted to get a good nights sleep. So we tried to get a cab to go to a hotel we looked up on Ctrip. However, the individuals that worked for the airport and the taxi drivers only wanted to make money off of us. They wanted to charge us 200 kuai (~40 Cdn) for a 5 km ride. Nuh uhhh. So in my best Cantonese, I tried to negotiate. But it didn’t work out for me as the airport worker told the driver that I was only willing to pay 30 kuai so he shouldn’t bother with us. I guess he didn’t care that I could understand him. Anyways, we eventually ended up in a white van with two others. And using my broken Mandarin listening skills I found out they were given a better deal than us. So they helped us negotiate for a better price
That place was something else. There was no shower, a squat toilet, and the air conditioning took almost 3 hours to cool down our room. If you read my previous Hainan blog you might have noticed that mosquitos love me. And the ONE mosquito in the room loved me. He bit me 9 times that night while he only bit my friend once. not even fair.
I thought Hainan and Thailand were hot, but nothing could have prepared me for Hanoi.
It was sunny, humid, and hootttttt. Our hostel (Little Hanoi Hostel 2) was right across from the Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake) and the Turtle Tower. So we stopped to take some pictures before getting PHO!!!
Tip: If your accommodation offers you a taxi service you should take it. A lot of drivers will try to rip you off and the rate your hostel/hotel will give you is usually quite reasonable.
After eating our pho we went to exchange money. I can’t remember the exact road but if your hostel tells you about it, it honestly gives pretty great rates. My friend exchanged yuan and only lost half a dollar on 200 dollars.
Afterwards we decided to walk towards the War Museum. On the way we passed this cool railway track in the middle of some buildings. So I had to take some deep ‘walking off into the distance’ photos.
At the War Museum we got to see some remnants of the Vietnam War as well as check out the Hanoi Flag Tower
Across the Museum we checked out the Lenin Monument before hopping into a tuk-tuk to see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Presidential Palace, and the One Pillar Pagoda.
As I was melting from the heat, we took our last stop of the tour at St. Joseph’s Cathedral.
At the end of our tour, our driver dropped us off near the water puppet theatre in the Old Quarter. At the Old Quarters we walked around to find a place to eat dinner (noodles and banh mi) and later visited the night market.
I thought that Hanoi would be cooler at night. But I think it only got more humid. So after walking around the lake we visited Trang Tien for ice cream. The place was really neat as you can drive your motorcycle in. We ended up getting the traditional ice cream cone and it was good and cheap.
The next day we woke up early to catch our 1 day tour to Ha Long Bay. What I really liked about the hostels in Vietnam is that they provide you with a good breakfast in the morning. You had the option of having ramen or a viet sub with egg and tomato. mmmmmmmm happy jenn.
The ride to Ha Long Bay took about 4 hours and we had a 25 minute break at a rest stop/souvenir shop/restaurant along the way. But this place was the best because it had real and clean toilets as well as wooden dragonflies that mysteriously balanced on their nose.
When we got off the bus, our tour guide completely covered herself in a jacket with a hood and hand covers and she put on a face mask. This was to remain pastey. I probably would have fainted if I wore all of that. The things we do for beauty…
We were given a pretty decent lunch on the boat but we had to share with strangers which I didn’t particularly enjoy. I think if they had serving utensils I would have been much happier.
During our tour we were given the chance to kayak around a portion of Ha Long Bay. Our tour guide informed us that this area was the fishermen’s washroom but YOLO. I had hand sanitizer anyways.
At the end of our trip we visited Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace). This is a ginormous cave with tons of stalagmites and stalactites (some even resembled animals). At the top of the cave there is a large hole that allows a pillar of light to enter on very sunny days. This place was crazy humid, I was practically swimming. So if you go be prepared for that.
After a 4 hour long bus back we got dropped off at the Old Quarters and ate some Papaya Salad and Street Pho. Additionally I got a North Face backpack for 350 baht (I’m pretty sure its fake but it seems to be really good quality – the whistle buckle even works!)