Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An American Devil Bandit in North Vietnam!

Safety First!

After a quick and very expensive Dragonair (part of OneWorld) flight in full Y, almost US$420 for a 500 mile flight! I landed in Hanoi. Be careful at the airport, scammers are everywhere.. I had read on Wikitravel the going rate for a cab, and after meeting a "cabbie", we agreed on a price and started driving towards Hanoi. Or so it seemed, after 5 km, the driver requested an additional fee (in local currency) to cover some "toll" fees. I refused since we had agreed that the $15 dollar ride would cover all expenses from Hanoi to my hotel. After a few minutes discussing what to do, I told him take me back to the airport, literally we drove back. I grabbed my bag which as I try yo do in difficult situations is always next to me in the back seat. We cursed each other out in several languages after he insisted in getting money for the trip. Once I got to the airport I boarded another taxi, a bit more legit and costing $17ish.

At this point in time I was exhausted and tired. I made it to my hotel where I was supposed to join a 20 day GAP Adventures tour. My roommate had already checked in, an oil geologist, over the next days we share some good stories. But it was getting late and it was beer time. Plus i needed to find an ATM and get some Vietnamese "Dongs", seriously that's the name of the currency and at 20,000 to the USD one of the craziest exchange rates I've encountered so far. We walked around the block, found a small street stall and sat down and grabbed a local beer, it wasn't really cold and pretty bad, but I guess that what happens when you weren't colonized or had German or Central European immigrants.

Sleeping Ho Chi !
This looks like something that Dali would have designed but it was part of the Mausoleum!

Any way the next day we were off to visit a little tropical paradise... Halong Bay We boarded a boat that would be our home for the next 36 hours. During the day we were swimming, jumping off the boat and exploring different cave formations. At night we were downing beer after beer and getting to know the group.
Kissing Rocks at Halong Bay

Floating 7-11, she was also around at night, but her prices went up 200% after sunset...
Halong Bay

Then it was time to head back to Hanoi, we would have some 6 hours before our overnight train to Hue. We wanted to visit the Ho Chi Minh masoleum, but we had no clue how to say it in Vietnamese, so we grabbed a 100,000 dong bill and pointed to his face and puts our hands togehther like he was sleeping. Take us to where he sleeps. It worked!, we were able to visit the museum , masoleum and other parts of downtown Hanoi. We were walking as a group in taking a picture with us, it was weird at first, but I guess most tourists in Vietnam are old American trying to revisit after the war, again this is just an assumption, or maybe we as group were super photogenic hahaha... Anyway we took some pics with them and felt like mini-stars... 

I'm a Celebrity in Hanoi!

We went for dinner at a restaurant on a 5th floor overlooking Hanoi.. It was a great way to finish our trip... Now it was time to buy supplies for our overnight train ride... We walked down a street full of mini-markets and stalls... We bought some snacks and a 24 pack of tiger beer, that would be enough for me and my roommate! :) We made our way down to the train station and met up with other members of our group.. They also had done some shopping so we decided to share our cabin and just turn it into the party cabin... They had another 12-18 beers... So we were well stocked for the ride to Hue... Train stations in Asa as in most of the developing world can be hectic at times, but if you look carefully you can find reason in the madness of South East Asia...
Next post central vietnam. ... :)

No comments:

Post a Comment