01.06.2011 31 °C
i should begin by saying that i was in hanoi during this trip 3 seperate times and this is just a blog explaining in general my time in hanoi, so there may be some chronological gaps from when i went to halong bay and sapa. so some of these things happened over a week ago, such as anything having to do with alison as shes currently setting fires to the kitchens in australia.
kelly (a lassie from england), alison and i set out one morning in search of the prison museum. we managed to navigate the crazy streets of hanoi fairly well considering they intertwine often and there is a moto bike almost running you over everytime you step off the sidewalk. the Hoa Lo prison was created in the 1800's by the french colonists and used on the vietnamese. later this was used as a POW camp during the vietnam-american war. the propanganda on how well the americans were treated here was a bit much as photographs showed prisoners amiling and laughing with gaurds, decorating christmas trees, cooking supper together and having basketball tournoments with smiles so big one might think your face would freeze that way. interesting how every country during the time of war wants to be viewed as ruthless and full of terror and then after the war they change their tune to wanting to be seen as very humane and gental. every country does this and this was just another example.
from here we headed out to the temple of literature, the first university in vietnam. it was EXTREMELY hot this day and its a bit of a walk so by the time we got here we were drenched in sweat! but the gardens were beautiful and had lots of interesting vietnamese architecture and symbolism represented throughout. we learned that during the time of this universities reign the king himself would test each student by interviewing them and decide personally whether they passed or failed, talk about pressure! we sorted out bus tickets to come pick us up to go to sapa, and then the lady who does our laundry took off and were were left without clothes and forced to abandon our sapa plans together, after a struggle the hostel finally took responsibility for this and paid for our bus tickets. this made it so alison couldtn go to sapa so i waited around with her for a few days before heading there myself.
on alisons and mines last day together we decided to celebrate our trip and mourn our parting of ways, her visa had expired and she was headed to bangkok to catch a flight to australia to begin her next adventure and i was headed to sapa to enjoy some reprieve of the laid back north. we went for pizza and beer at a decent pizzeria and finished it off with a banana split and reminisced about our travels before heading back to the hostel and watching coneheads. now, saying goodbye is just not fun but if you have to do it i think we nailed it! at 430 she walked me to a moto taxi and i cruised off into the sunset in search of my night bus.
(went to sapa and returned from sapa)
i got off the night bus from sapa to hanoi at 530 in the morning and took a cab to my hostel, i had been up since 230 because of the constant honking of the drivers and was looking forward to sleep, but i wasnt able to check in until 9 so by then i was wide awake. i met up with a girl named suzy from america and we went out to explore the town and do some last min shopping for gifts and souvineers. soaking in the ambiance of the street culture. as always there was the constant honking of horns as moto bikes weaved through traffic, often collidng causing an accident where they stand up yell at each other for a while then hop back onto their bikes and take off. we passed by many street barbers who literally have a chair on the sidewalk a small mirror and people can come and sit and get their hair cut, never manged to get a picture of this but its quite neat to see. ladies chased us up and down the street yelling "madam, you buy from me!!" trying to sell mostly timbit style baked goods. we ate some traditional food, however the stench of the sewage that downtown smells like kind of kills your appetite but we manged to get our hands on some spring rolls anways.
the next day suzi and i went off in search of the dong xuan market, a massive 3 story structure full of most things you could imagine. it was a ful place to test out our bargining skills and escape the heat, however not the crowd. this market had less tourists then many and was full of a wide variety i got a set of probably 8 chopsticks for $2, and a white porcelin tea pot with blue painting on it that the locals often drink from for $5. starting to get hungry we followed our noses out to the food vendor street and settled down with the locals to eat what they translated into "noodle and something". it was like a noodle soup with various types of green lettuce, stewed tomatos and tofu in it. it was ok but hard to explain vegetarian so i had to eat around the peices of mystery meat floating around. we went to explore the east side of the lake as neither of us had muched went into this area of town and filled up on delicious fresh fruit smoothies from the street vendors. after sending suzy off to the airport i met foster and his friend lyndee (i had initially met foster in sapa) for fresh beer on plastic chairs on the side of the street about forty cents a glass while we played cards before heading for one last good beer at a pub.
today is my last day in vietnam which makes me sad as ive really enjoyed it here but excited to move onto malaysia. i finished the last of my shopping walked around and organized all the boring travel stuff that isnt worth blogging about. probably will head down to the bar townstairs to take advantage of the free beer hour later today. oh vietnam, you will be missed.