This is our first time in the north of Vietnam and we both love it as much as the south. We arrived in Hanoi on Wednesday night and instead of catching a cab to our hotel we got on the local bus which cost us less than AUD$1! Soon after getting on the bus a young Vietnamese guy got on and started talking to us straight away. He had just flown in from Ho Chi Minh where he had been doing qualification testing to be able to work on a cruise ship as a bartender. He had studied business and commerce at university but couldn’t find a job so started working as a bartender shortly after graduating and now he was hoping to work on a cruise ship to earn better money. He made the bus ride go a lot quicker than it would have as he was giving us information on Hanoi and places we should go.
Once we got off the bus and walked to our hotel we thought it would be nice to go have a beer and some food. It was all happening on the street. We saw a fight, a guy passed out on the street, a guy so drunk he couldn’t get into a cab and banh mi. We avoided everything but the banh mi (vietnamese bread roll) and sat down to eat and have a beer while we watched all of the other things we were avoiding.
Thursday we didn’t really do much but our usual, walking, eating and drinking. We had been pretty happy up to this point as neither of us had gotten sick so far on our trip (this for me was a major achievement) but while I was sitting at a road side restaurant eating a bowl of beef pho, Mark was gradually going downhill. One of the downfalls of staying at a hotel with a shared bathroom is that sometimes it can be really far from your room. In our case it’s downstairs and so when Mark thought he had thrown up everything already and went to bed I knew better (multiple cases of food poisoning will teach you to know better) and moved the bin next to him. Sure enough, 2 hours later he was bent over that bin throwing his guts up. Of course I didn’t like seeing him sick like that but I will admit I was happy it wasn’t me – it’s normally always me.
We took Friday morning and afternoon easy as Mark still wasn’t feeling the best but by dinner time he had his appetite back so we splurged and went to an Argentinian BBQ restaurant. 500gm of Australian Black Angus Beef steak, some beer, passionfruit mojitos and caramel vodka made our night. We made a pact that while away we would aim to eat 1 nice meal a month – I’m looking forward to next month.
That now brings us to today, and I think we are now officially in our relaxed mode. After a decent 10 hour sleep we eventually got up and did a whole lot of nothing but walking. One of my favourite things to do when I’m overseas is to just walk around and look at everything. We have been able to do that so much here in Hanoi and it’s so nice and calming, even if it is Melbourne-worthy cold and we didn’t pack appropriately! We went through the old Hanoi prison earlier one which was quite interesting and will go out again tonight to explore some more.
It’s been nice having a few days in one city, no need to constantly pack or think about the time. We have a full day here again tomorrow and then are on a train to Sa Pa.