A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday in Hanoi

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(Hanoi, electronic billboard near Hoan Kiem Lake)

I got back to Hanoi at 0430 this morning (my compartment mates were 2 men from China and a very attractive magazine editor from Amsterdam). After taking a one day trek to the minority villages in the valley below Sapa, I was exhausted. I rented thin rubber boots for the trek from a guy called Sonny, and went with a group of 2 Belgians, an Irish guy, and a lady from Japan. Our Hmong guide spoke perfect English, and we were accompanied by 5 or 6 native ladies all eager to peddle their handiwork.

The trail was almost non-existant by American standards (just mud, stones, piles of buffalo dung, several streams, and more mud). It was beautiful in a rugged sort of way, and 99% of the people in the tiny villages still wore native (indigo and embroidered) clothes. The problem was that my group had no one older than 33 (except myself), and they went too damn fast for me (so fast I barely had time to get a few photos taken). After it was over (we left at 1000 and finished at 1700) I came back to the hotel, showered, had dinner (excellent beef curry at my hotel), and tried to walk around a little (it was difficult!) I met up with my trekking partners, and we did a pub crawl of 2 bars until 2230 (very romantic at night since the whole town is lit by candlelight).

Yesterday I just took it easy, took an early bus back to Lao Cai, took a taxi over to see the Chinese border to snap a few pictures, and headed for the Lao Cai Ga (train station). Since I had 2+ hours to kill, I wandered down to the excellent Pineapple Restaurant where I dined on Thai salad, Pho Bo (beef) and Hanoi beer - a great dinner!

The Livitrans train was a bit of a disappointment - very clean, but hardly the first class experience that I was told to expect. At least it was right on time, but arriving at 0430 gives one a great deal of time to waste in the am. I walked down to Hoan Kiem Lake and sat on a bench amid hundreds of Hanoians doing morning exercises to some awful recorded music. Then I walked over to a cafe and had VN black filtered coffee, a pineapple shake and 2 fried eggs with the smallest piece of ham I've ever seen! I met some Germans there who I had met just before the trek in Sapa, and then tried to get into the Gia Thinh Hotel at 0730 (told to come back after 0830) - so I'm here at Windows once more, and after another coffee at the City View, I'll attempt some sleep at my new abode.

I have pictures to show, so come back later, and you might actually be able to see shots of Hanoi and Sapa.

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(The terraced hills surrounding Sapa, Lao Cai Province)

Posted by Daawgon 12:00 Archived in Vietnam

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