Since being unlucky in Laos, things have actually improved quite a bit. Nearly 2 weeks ago I flew from Vientiane to Hanoi to start my Vietnamese adventures.
It didn’t get off to the best start, when after dropping off my friends at their hostel, our taxi driver from the airport started making gestures involving sleep, pointing at me, and pointing at himself – I don’t think I’ve ever said NO so many times, in a which said ‘never going to happen you creepy man, but please don’t rape me’.
When I arrived at the hostel I had booked, I was informed that it was full and I would be staying at one over e road. This second hostel was dark and dirty, had no locks on the front door or dorm room door, was damp and had the world’s loudest snorer conveniently located in the bed next to mine. I went to sleep despairing (and only with the help of my super strong Laos sleeping pills), but woke up the next day with a resolve to make things better.
Immediately I moved hostels, sought out a phone shop to fix my broken touch screen and decided to book a three day boat tour of Halong Bay, which everyone I know who has been to Vietnam cites as one of their favourite places.
All good so far, but now it’s time for my Britishness to shine with the complaint that plagued my entire time in Vietnam – the weather was awful.
In the north, it was cold. Not England cold, but there was no way we could take advantage of the sun deck on the boat, swim in the beautiful water or properly enjoy the private beach where eight of us stayed on the second night of the tour.
Thats not to say it wasn’t fun though, I actually did have a really good time and met some awesome people, especially on the second night when most of the group left.
After Halong Bay I decided to head South to Hoi An, another favourite of travellers in Vietnam. Here, my weather complaints were even more justified – it rained, relentlessly, for three out of the four days I was there, and as hard as you try to look past it there are a lot of things you just don’t want to do in the pouring rain – walks around the old towel motorbike rides out of town, visiting the beach, etc.
I was lucky though, in finding someone at my hostel with almost as much love for food as me. We searched out the best places to eat, and I had the best meal of my trip so far at a fabulous tiny restaurant called Bale Well. There’s no menu here, only one meal shared among your group.
You get rice paper, pork satay sticks, salad, vegetables, spring rolls and banh xeo, which you make into rolls and dip into a chilli satay sauce. So so good, as you can probably tell from my enthusiasm eating it.
On my one sunny day in Hoi An, I decided to finally face my fears and learn to ride a motorbike. With the way my luck had been going, I had put it off in favour of hopping on the back of other people’s bikes, and although I was offered that again I couldn’t leave Vietnam without trying it for myself.
It was actually very successful, I made it out to the marble mountains and back via the beach without incident and by the end of the day I was feeling confident. Admittedly on returning to the rental shop I did crash into another bike and break the wing mirror, but the owner didn’t seem too bothered so it was fine!
The past two days I have spent in Hanoi and Bangkok enjoying the last of my time in Asia before heading for the next stage of my travels in Australia – there have already been some fails in hat but I’ll cover that in my next post….