Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Humdrum Hanoi: Vietnam

Accommodation: Drift Backpackers Hostel, $5.50 per night dorm room

Flight: (I chickened out on the infamous bus ride)  A steep $140 one way, 1 hour- www.tcd-travel.com

Places to Visit: 
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Museum
  • Women's Museum
  • Temple of Literature
  • Hoan Kiem Lake

Lets get started on the mayhem of Vietnam...

Went to the airport and found several girls also making their voyage to Hanoi. The check-in system being rather confusing, we rallied together to get our boarding passes. Even sharing a taxi to one of the girl's hostel, I then took a moto/ xe om to my guesthouse. Now the streets of Hanoi are, to put it nicely, a rif raf of millions of motorcycles and plenty of cars trying to outrun eachother all at the same time. So riding on the back of motorcycle, I was frightened for dear life. I think I must have made a dent in the driver's shoulders trying to hold on.

Then came my accommodation. I went down an alleyway in the most chaotic part of town, to find Thu Giang Guesthouse. I was greeted by a young woman, only to be told 'My aunt's guesthouse is around the corner, you will be staying there.' Okay, in S E Asia, this is normality, but never a good sign. Down another alleyway, in front of a road made to kill all life forms possible, I entered a a large, dilapidated concrete building. At the top was my private room with my so-called shower. This being the worst fitted plumbing in history, I was pretty sure that the 90 year old 'aunt' may have tried a makeshift job on it. As I turned the knob to obtain my lovely shower, the entire thing came off into my hand. Hmmm....interesting I thought.

There and then I decided, no matter how many beds I may have to climb, and how decent I would have to behave, I was going to stay at a backpackers hostel, so I drove back to the origin, and booked myself into there for the entirety of my stay in Hanoi. Now, this hostel happened to be a slightly more cleaner version of SpicyLaos yet the partying was the same. However getting too old in my days, meant I was a good girl...promise. But at 3000 dong a pop/ 10p for a beer, its pretty hard to resist: see cheap and alcohol are 2 words that should be miles apart from each other.

Christmas eve was not the usual style, first going to the Womens Museum (haha surprise surprise) which was out of this world- Women being an integral part of the Vietnam war, it was a homage to all the women who fought and died during the struggle. And then dinner with my new plane friend and her mates, already based in Hanoi. The night ended with the yummiest mulled wine, passing out (almost) on her bed and fitting three people on the back of a motorbike home. Christmas on the other hand was a whole other kettle of fish.

Walking around the treacherous alleys of Hanoi, was not that easy. But we managed, and ended the night with the craziest hostel party in the world. There were buckets of alcohol, including Sambuca, fluorescent paint on every living creature there and even mild stripping-courtesy of the Pikey brits. Decent went out the window.

So of course the obvious thing to do the next morning was to pay our respects to the big man himself, Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum...creepy. God he would be spinning in his grave, if he was in one. He lay lifeless (clearly) but was fragile, pale and thin. They designed it to make you shiver next his tomb aka. A/C blasting from all directions, pin drop silence, and having to walk in a line to get a glimpse of him for 2 seconds. Scary stuff, but he was cute like your granddad nonetheless. The next day was a 13 hour bus ride to Hue, Central Vietnam.

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