Hue

To get to Hue from Hanoi was a 14 hour overnight train ride, where I shared a room with a German couple, a Vietnamese lady and her dog which she allowed us to pet. I’ve shared hostel dorms with hundreds of other people by now as well as maybe a cat, but this dog was a lot preferable to a lot of people I’ve stayed in a room with.

After a coffee and some food I headed to the Imperial City. It was 36 degrees outside but I did manage to get around more or less the whole thing. As it was so hot, I lacked the brain power to be able to read and absorb the information displayed, though it was a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

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Today, I went on a tour to see the Summer Gardens, Padoga and three tombs of historic emperors. My Asian history isn’t too great, it’s too hot to take in much information so had a nice day out and about, without knowing too much of the historic meaning.

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I’m getting to the point now where I always “have to do something,” whether that be booking and getting to the transport, needing to download a map and a translator, make absolutely sure that I know how to get from A to B on travel days and even just out and about, knowing whether or not to trust taxi drivers and if so which ones, telling someone on the street that I don’t want to buy whatever shit they’re selling, the currency, exchange rate as not to get ripped off, getting to the other side of the road alive and in one piece, it feels like work and that’s where all my energy is going. I’m also going to play the female card, and say that being foreign, female and on my own pushes my guard up a lot more when it comes to trusting people.

I do want to go somewhere that’s familiar to me and I’m just wanting to go back to Europe for a bit. The week after next is my India trip which I’m excited for, and I’m so glad that I get to let someone else do all the work for planning that. In a few days time I’ll book a flight from India to Budapest and spend the time between that and the Egypt and Jordan trip in Eastern Europe, then I’ll decide where I go before heading off to New Zealand.

Ha Long Bay

Yesterday morning I went off to Ha Long Bay which the hostel had booked for me. It meant staying overnight on a boat, with my own room and the biggest double bed that I’ve ever slept in.

I’d been told that I’d get there by bus, however the streets around are too small to fit a bus down. A tour guide rocked up on a moped, told me to get on the back in t-shirt, shorts and flip flops with no helmet, and drove me through, and sometimes onto, the traffic to get the bus. I was bricking it, my travel insurance definitely would not cover that, and he was rather amused.

Over the past couple of days we’ve been into caves, climbed up to viewpoints and kayaked.

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Hanoi

Yesterday morning I arrived in Hanoi, and annoyingly so, my visa to allow me to stay in the country for longer than two weeks was approved within an hour of me leaving the airport. At the hostel I was asked what my plans in Vietnam are and have had up until I get a train to Hue sorted out for me.

I tried not to do a lot yesterday and felt very much as though I had to be switched on – the roads are a complete nightmare to cross and you literally have to walk into the traffic and hopefully won’t get hit by a car/bus/moped. My internal monologue whilst crossing is along the lines of “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck ohhh shit.” I’ve seen people carrying things just sellotaped to the back of their bike, as well as a parent riding with what must’ve been a one-year-old child in between his legs.

I went to the Hao Loa Prison museum, which was used by the French to imprison the Vietnamese and later on used by the Vietnamese to imprison the Americans during the Vietnamese War. Most of the museum was based on how the Vietnamese were treated when they were inside, though it was interesting to hear about how the Americans were treated inside – a lot, lot better. After I went to check into the hostel properly, nap, and go to the road where the train passes through a few times per day.

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The Hanoi Train Street is different because instead of traffic, bar a few mopeds, it’s a pedestrian road with train tracks which you can walk on (obviously not when the train’s coming). There’s a few bars there that are like hostel bars, where they encourage the foreigners to have a “Choo Choo Beer” and chat – the staff yell out “Choo Choo” when they give you the beer.

 

Today, I went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which I wasn’t fussed by, and then the Citadel, which I still wasn’t fussed by. After some pho, spring rolls and a Vietnamese Coffee I headed to the History Museum which I was expecting to be modern history, but instead it was more archaeology based. The area around is quite nice with a lake and stuff, but I didn’t feel it was worth going to. On the way back to the hostel I picked up some Bahn Mi and was inside when it started pissing down.

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Quite possibly the cheapest beer I’ve ever had at £0.66

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Overall, I think I’ve struggled with the city, but then it is very different to anywhere I’ve experienced. I’ve eaten better than anywhere else so far, and I think if I give Vietnam a chance then I’ll get used to the chaos and really like it here.

Tomorrow I’m off to Ha Long Bay overnight which is one of the reasons why I chose to come to Vietnam. I’ve heard from the people that I’ve spoken to who have already been that it’s definitely worth a visit.