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Arrived in Hanoi in the evening following a storm as everywhere was hot, humid and soaking.
Caught a taxi to a Intercontinental Hotel on the bank of West Lake, where I had explained that this trip was to celebrate our wedding anniversary and, as usual, hoped for some "perk".
Our room was fantastic with a view of the lake from our private balcony but no upgrade, oh well that's life.
We arrived in Danang with nowhere booked and after some resistance we gave-
Another reason for changing hotels which we wouldn’t discover til sunrise the following morning as that the crazy Vietnamese were in the sea as the sun came up with plenty of shouting and screaming!!!!!!
The following day, having missed breakfast time by hours, we set off to explore Hanoi and, as is our wont, we rejected the taxis and walked to the Old Quarter. However, I'll come back to exploring Hanoi later as when we returned to the hotel in the evening our room, which was already spacious, had had the connecting door left door. Certainly not a mistake and our room was now a massive apartment.
Thank you for the upgrade!!!!
Why oh why do I keep falling for it? Today it’s “wear my hat for picture” next, feeling guilty I buy a couple of bags for probably the most expensive of bananas!!!!
Over the next couple of days we plodded around Hanoi visiting one tourist attraction after another and once we had got over the shock of crossing roads where there appears to be no control we felt safe meandering between hundreds of cycles, mopeds and rickshaws just to cross the road.
Water Puppet Theatre (Interesting Ha Ha)
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple
Hanoi Opera House
Temple of Literature
One Pillar Pagoda
Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
And in between all of the sight seeing we booked our trip to Sapa.
The journey to Sapa itself is worth a mention as it starts in a street restaurant with child sized plastic chairs and we were the only Westerners in it. Having ordered some beer and food the waitress finally served our food, she took great care in showing us how to use the rice cakes to wrap the food in before dipping it into a rich, thick soya sauce and then offering to me. I took one healthy bite before my eyes watered and my throat burnt. The locals were obviously expecting this as they all laughed and clapped in delight. Apparently, this sauce was nicknamed " Vietcong tear gas" and it certainly is an accurate name for it.
Having found the train and our berthed shared with a Vietnamese couple who insisted in making conversation in pidgeon English and also called one of their relatives, on the phone, to translate. That was hard work.
Finally, we arrived at the station and embarked on the mini-
The following day, bleak and cloudy again, our guide arrived to collect us for one of our 2 guided walks and what was amazing was that she was OUR guide and not a large group which is what we had expected. She took us uphill, downhill, across paddy fields and through several tiny villages and gave us thorough explanations during the walk. Having said the day was bleak and dreary there were many times where the clouds suddenly cleared, then the views were awesome. Across tiers and tiers of paddy fields all the way down to the floor of the valleys.
Our two days are soon over and it's time to return to Hanoi before heading directly to Halong Bay and our next hotel on the island of Cat Ba where we had a few nights booked at the Cat Ba Island Resort.
Unfortunately, we made a mistake as the weather was always hazy we decided not to do a Halong Bay tour which, in hindsight, was stupid having travelled all that way. We did explore the island on a hired motorbike, this was the first time I had ridden on for many years so it was a little scary and, fortunately, we came away unscathed apart from burnt calves from the exhaust pipe.
From Cat Ba will were heading to Danang by ferry, mini-
Hue Imperial City
The End of our first Vietnamese Holiday