Day 3 – Free in Hanoi & Driving to Halong Bay

25 Feb

So, a free morning in Hanoi started later than planned with twice the number of people trying to cram into the breakfast room.

My plan had been to escape by myself to walk to the prison and then taxi to the Ethnology museum as I hadn’t found anyone else wanting to do that.  That was until I sat next to Jackie at breakfast. By the time we left there were 5 of us.  Some sacrificing a spa session to go to jail. Can you tell that the majority of the people on this tour are female?

Anyway, because of the later start, I was persuaded to take a taxi to the Hoa Lo prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton. US senator John McCain had his picture on the wall as he was held here during the Vietnam War, or the American Resistance War, as the signs say.

Reading the displays – it was pretty obvious that there are 2 sides to every story. Prison had been open since 1896 and the only thing that was clear was that torture and harsh conditions were a regular part off life here. Although all the pictures of the US “pilots in pyjamas” were of smiling, happy, healthy people.

Leaving the prison, the call of the massage was too much for some and Jackie and I jumped in a taxi to the Museum of Ethnology.  We agreed to spend no more than 2 hours there, but after touring the first of the areas it was obvious that our attention wasn’t going to last that long.  Each of the different ethnic groups was described in great detail and their customs described in video and other displays.  However once you have seen one house, one weaver and one  cooking pot, you’ve seen them all!

image
image
image

We did wander around the second area – the gardens outside – consisting of various types of houses from the different areas.  One of these was a monstrous community centre which required climbing a precarious wooden pole with steps cut into it.   The biggest laugh of the day came when a young tourist came down backwards and ran into the horns of a goat.  She ran screaming, and the goat chased her.  Her friends and everyone else laughing uncontrollably. It was very friendly with the tourists.

image
image
image

We also met the kids who obviously hadn’t graduated to tourist chasing yet.

image

Heading back to the hotel, we couldn’t avoid the museum shop and all of the typical lacquer work for sale.  There was also a very fetching mask which I refrained from buying.  I’m going to regret that one.

In the taxi, we were driven through a different area of Hanoi, past the botanical gardens which gave a likely more accurate take on life in Hanoi.

We headed straight to a bakery to purchase lunch. The choices were pork, pork or pork. Little did I know, after buying all three, that the pork was merely a topping on the bread, rather than a filling. I topped it up with a packet of cream sponge cakes. Diet still not happening.

image
image

We then headed across the road to a coffee shop, where I helped the dollar only crew buy some coffee with the local Dong currency.

Back at the hotel, I scoffed the lunch and laid our main bags aside. We’ll hopefully see them again tomorrow.

We boarded the pink bus for a four hour trip to Halong Bay City. But it turned out traffic was bad.  And so were the female bladders. We stopped prematurely at an unapproved toilet. Glad I wasn’t needing.  Half an hour later, we made it past the traffic accident to the official stop.  Big shop, selling lots of things made by disabled people. Also some jade statues of the $20,000 variety. All the lacquer work was also for sale at twice the prices we had seen that morning.

image
image
image
image

We continued to Halong Bay City as it was getting dark. Also worried that it appeared to be very cloudy.  I noticed some large shapes in the water, but nothing else so far.  Hoping for good weather tomorrow.

Also during the bus trip the BudaPEST clicker was at it again.  So much so that she got a talking to from the people she was continually pointing the lens in front of the face of. Not had much effect yet.  Tune in tomorrow to see if she survived the depths of Halong Bay.

Arrived at what can only be described as the Blackpool of Vietnam – without the rides, excitement or doughnuts. Checked into the hotel.  It has free wifi, smelly rooms and exceptionally hard beds. Also a bar that closes early.

We went to a seafood restaurant for a pre booked hot pot. Our food was still swimming about as we walked in. Prawns, squid, clams and a grouper were all added to a stove in the centre of the table with some veg and we had to cook it ourselves, together with some rice noodles.  Eventually got the hang of getting prawns open – not. Everyone tried avoiding the squid heads. Most expensive meal yet – that I had to cook myself.  Nice experience though.

image
image
image

Back at the hotel and we headed to bed, ready for am early start on the bay tomorrow.  6 hours on a boat is going to be interesting.

An interestingly varied if tiring day.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: