Today we have been in Hanoi for 7 days and done bugger all.
I probably shouldn’t say that but that is how it feels. Yes, we have started the girls schooling and have been able to relax and not live out of a suitcase for a little bit and we have also been able to communicate with home but we have itchy feet.
We started to check out trips to Ha Long Bay, Sapa and then our next leg of the journey.
We didn’t anticipate the Chinese New Year celebrations were going to be such a big deal and all the workers will return to their villages for 4 days. Apparently the city will be a little quieter than usual.
We got some prices and then checked with the Hotel for what kind of deal they could do. It is always a little concerning when you look to book a tour with so many tour companies around you always feel like you are being ripped off. We didn’t book anything as we still have to sort out our finer details of the trip (dates, transfers, mode of transport, timing) we can then look at booking from here.
We covered off some more school work for the girls, then went for dinner. We walked towards the lake but before the Lake is a little laneway and to our surprise a whole heap of restaurants, it was awesome actually local, western style meals they were all their.
We stopped off at a Vietnamese style restaurant and had an excellent meal all while the local lads played hacky sack. Their version was a little different to the one I recall, first version they passed randomly to each other in a circle and then must have set up duals to your opposite player then you must have to do the best flick kick but if you missed you got a flick behind the ears. Second version you passed around in a circle and if you didn’t successfully pass the hacky sack on to the next player or did a bad pass you would get a flick behind the ear. Pretty funny this is in a little lane way still being used by taxis and motorbikes while playing hacky sack, but I thought I would have a crack. Asked if I could play they were OK with it till I played. I was rubbish the hacky has a shuttle cock end on it still no excuses and persisted for a few rounds.
I only successfully passed it on 4-5 times, lucky for me I didn’t get the ear flick as the locals did, even though I didn’t want an ear flick I wanted to deliver one. I did hear Summer cry out for an ear flick but they were good lads and played on. All good fun. Returned to the room and watched one of our Hanoi DVD’s, pretty good quality actually. A pretty chilled out day in Hanoi.
School run Hanoi Style.
Covered off some more school work for the girls this morning. We then decided to head to the train station to see if we could book the sleeper train from Hanoi to Da Nang. We asked the hotel manager to write what we wanted in Vietnamese in case we had any issues. While sitting waiting we had 2 x western couples try to arrange tickets with no succuss so we thought we did the right thing having it written in Vietnamese.
Our turn, bow bow all booked out and we checked dates around the time we wanted to travel but still booked out. We had already looked at flights at the hotel so had that as a backup but just wanted to do land travel for a different experience and now we will have to reassess the situation. From here we decided to walk to a home stay that we had tried to book but was full on the dates we were here.
To our surprise the walk was further than anticipated but pleasant. Walked past the Army Museum, Old Flag Tower and Ho Chi Min Mausoleum all being prepped for New Year. We then walked for what seemed like for ever up Hoang Hoa Tham St, we realised the numbering system is read right to left not left to right. We were up the far end of the street and you really cannot walk that fast because the footpath is taken up with parked motorbikes. Any way finally got there 45 min late.
The lady was just about to leave but stayed on for a chat. We both were very apologetic for being late and then she pulls out a fruit platter for us and some tea just to add to her great hospitality. Head shrunk into neck and felt even worse for running late. Anyway got chatting, she was excellent, recommended local dishes to try, little handy cheat sheet on the language and then said ‘you stay in Hanoi too long this is not the real Vietnam’.
We need to get out to the villages. That’s when both Summer and I Iooked at each other and agreed. We then looked over Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa, She then also recommended Mai Chau that we had not heard of. It was well worth the trip, to visit a local, who wasn’t keen on giving us the big sell on big ticket trips. It didn’t stop there she was about to pick her kids up from school and asked us to stay while she went and after we declined, as we had already imposed, she flashed up her motorbike and she decided to give the girls a ride to do the school run.
This was awesome all 3 of the girls plus the lady on a motorbike they were cracking up it was really really cool.
I would have to run up to the school only 500-700 metres. If I thought the school run around Randwick is bad check this photo out. I actually beat them to the school by running. Peak hour motorbikes for pickup. No kiss and go section just do your best, size is king though and the school bus wins this by a mile. It was awesome she then dropped the girls at the bus stop, I walked 20 metres up the road to meet them and then 5 minutes later the bus arrived and took us back to Hoan Kiem Lake. As soon as we got into the room we started to plan our exit out of Hanoi, we really took in what the lady had said and were so grateful for the visit.