Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Hanoi’

The Tour Must Go On

In Vietnam on September 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

After two days on my own in Hanoi, Shubes returned to Asia from her recent jaunt to Oz and Fiji. In total I had a very enjoyable four days in Vietnam’s capital but was itching to discover some of the other gems of the North. We realised we have quite a long time to cover the traditional tourist trail down the 16000km of coast to Saigon so we could visit a few places off the route. If the Top Gear lads can do it in eight days I’m sure we can do it justice in three weeks.

Chatting to other backpackers around town they all highly recommended the hill station town of Sapa and the UNESCO heritage site of Halong Bay. Lonely Planet said it was cheaper to do both of these with a package tour so we shopped around and got a three-day two night tour arranged for Halong Bay. At only $45 US it seemed very reasonable for an all-inclusive deal and hit our budget accordingly. Since I’ve been away I’ve only done one overnight tour and that was quite relaxing so I was looking forward to the cruise. The trip had a packed itinerary including kayaking, a cave visit, sleeping on a traditional junk boat and trekking in a national park on Cat Ba island.

The boat restricted fruit sellers of Halong Bay

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Vietnam Has The Nicest Thieves

In Vietnam on September 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Fellow travellers had warned me that the Vietnamese were different to a lot of other nationalities in South East Asia. I’d been told they were all out to make a quick dong, were rude and uninviting. I was prepared for the worst but what I’ve found so far is completely the opposite. Of course I still have a long time for them to piss me off, rip me off and leave bleeding in an alley but let’s not think about that for now.
My first rip off in Vietnam was an honest one. I stumbled out of Noi Bai airport in Hanoi after only managing a couple of hours sleep in the preceding 24 hours. The Lonely Planet didn’t mention how you should get to the city from the airport, or even how far it is. Why is it that they spend so long  finding the best burrito in every town but miss out the vital travelling information? Anyway, I decided that a shared minibus was the best, or only viable option and for the proposed $2 fee it was probably worth going for. Considering they won the war I don’t know why they are obsessed with the Yankee dollar. I ended up paying very slightly more than $2 because I paid in dong. The two old local blokes sitting next to me handed over 30,000 while I paid 40k. I asked the man dealing with the dough “Why do they pay 30 when I pay 40?” He replied in the way the Vietnamese have learned how to think when dealing with tourists, “They’re different, foreigners pay $2”. That’s just the way it is here. If you’re a visitor you’re going to pay more and you just have to accept it and at least he was an honest rip off merchant.