Saturday, 30 March 2013

Ha Long and Hanoi

After our horror train we just walked out of the train station to have some breakfast (26.03.) at a nice little restaurant the Dutch guy from Dong Hoi recommended us (just opposite the queen mini hotel). Afterwards we hassled our way through to the bus terminal (which is really close, although everyone wanted us to take a taxi^^). Unfortunately, the last bus to Ha Long already left 3pm. So our plan to visit gorgeous Ninh Binh area by motorbikes was screwed. Troubles met by many travelers often untold for the sake of everyone... however, I'm to give you at least some details: this morning everyone was to find a solid toilet place, probably still due to the fish from the day before^^ After Ben, Flo and Jan rampaged the hotels toilet next to the restaurant we had breakfast in, Tob and I plagued a hotel near the bus terminal :P
The bus ride to Ha Long was not really pleasant, but they luckily stopped right in front of our hotel :) We went to the bay and had some overpriced beer before we went to book a tour for the next day and went to sleep - what we absolutely needed. Our next days tour was typically touristy... unfortunately, it is no good season to visit Ha Long bay... not many tourists, but no great vistas either. Still, Ha Long bay was impressive to see. And we enjoyed the boat ride along the bay a lot. Although, the boat look nothing like on the advertised picture and it would have been cheaper if we went to Hanoi and took a day tour from there - one is always brighter afterwards^^ It was a typical touristy route... entering a cave (lighted more like LasVegas, pleasant but unspectacular after the paradise cave), visiting a seafood farm, go to a small beach, go kayaking through some caves if you were willing to pay some extra cash, having some poor lunch and funnily modern talking as music in the background^^
not the best weather, but it was beautiful nevertheless
natural beauty filled with boats of tourists
the gang at one of Ha Long bay's beaches

Our bus ride from Ha Long to Hanoi the next morning (27.03.) led us through quite a traffic jam... at one time when our insane bus driver was to pass some cars again he hardly found a way back into line and nearly crashed into a truck that came against us. You know that you are REALLY in danger when the ticket guy from your bus opens the side door and is about to jump out. Luckily, we made it in the last sec :D We had to switch buses and the locals in the north were really rough and unfriendly... it led us to remember the stupid propaganda movies from Saigon... probably the northern people were truly engaged with the regime's thoughts. From the bus terminal a ride on taxis who's drivers had no idea about the city brought us to our hostel after we led them by GPS - thanks to modern technology :)
The day was young, so we went to explore the city. HaNoi's old french quarters are gorgeous and the city has a nice vibe. SIimply walking through the streets or sitting at a café lets you indulge the city's relaxed charm. Also HaNoi is filled with motorbikes even if not as much as Saigon.
Later we were to explore the city's nightlife. We planed to get wasted again dancing all night long... the plan had some hurdles tho^^ First we had a beer at the rooftop of our hostel. Tob and Flo were happy about all the backpackers around - even if it was 90% guys - while Ben and I were fed up by their talks. Australians were the worst as usual... they are truly embarrassing for mankind :/ We then continued to Finnegan's, Hanois irish pub... it was empty tho. We then made our way to a street bar close to our brother hostel and enjoyed some beers there. This is where we met the 2 Italian girls from Dong Hoi again - small world :) Right at 12 o'clock the police came with trucks, closed the bars and took any alcohol they could find... quite a party killer... it is law in Vietnam that bars have to be closed after midnight - only enforced in Hanoi though :P We were told that we only had to wait 30minutes and they would reopen - but they didn't as the police continued to be around. We were able to catch one quick beer on the second floor of some bar before we had to leave that one as well. So we made our way back to our hostel and hoped for the next evening.
The next morning (28.03.) Ben and I went to see Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the museum next door. We were lucky as the queue was short. We forgot our cameras though to take some pictures from outside. All the Vietnamese going there were well dressed to greet their hero. He was well prepared in the mausoleum. At the museum next door, a young student took us on a small tour around the complex. She was truly enthusiastic about her national hero explaining us all the places he used - including his phone to reach the propaganda minister^^ I couldn't but feel a bit sorry. I mean I really believe that Ho Chi Minh was a man who sought to do good to his country and lived a spartan life instead of being greedy like many of the western politicians. However, not understanding economic systems and turning against a capitalistic system still cost the population of his country years of development and is one of the main causes why they are still stuck being a developmental country. Kinda sad to fail heavily with such good intentions. Later we met the other and walked again through the old quarter and then along the Hoan Kiem lake.
At the evening we went for the nightlife again.  This time we started early. First we entered some upfloor shisha bar as we got some flyer to buy 1 - drink 2 + free shisha :) The beer was ugly tho and we weren't really up for shisha. After 2 more cocktails and some pool with some black guy we left for the next bars. We entered the dragonfly bar where Tob and I talked to some girls. Then we opted the bar on the opposite of the street, already quite drunk some rich Vietnamese invited us for drinks. It was time for midnight again and the police closed the doors... now we ended in Phuc Tan, a nightclub located at right at song Hong river between the bridges. The club was recommended to us by the Dutch from Dong Hoi and some other travelers and locals as well. The Dutch and some other told us of naughty Hanoi girls who wanted to be with some foreigners and no hookers. Driven by that description and since all other places were closed we made our way there. It appeared like some underground club as all the area around was completely dark. Partying at the river with banana trees in sight was a great feeling tho^^ Unfortunately, it was not very packed... the stories of naughty girls were not false, but you got to be REALLY drunk to fall for these girls. Although, we felt really drunk - it still wasn't enough to pursue us^^ After a baguette next door we went back to our hostel. The next morning (29.03.) a taxi drove us to the airport were we flew to Bangkok and from there on to Krabi airport.

the gang explores the old quarter
look who's there :P

shisha and beer overlooking the street beneath us

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