Archive for the ‘Hanoi’ Category

  • Change of plans, our first flight within Asia

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    A couple of days before our vietnamese tourist visa expired we had to face a difficult decission which would affect the philosophy of our trip and consecuently our trip itself. We had two options: whether cross the north of Laos in order to come back to Thailand again by land, or take a plain and make the whole thing easier for one time. The first option was our starting plan. We always had thought of keeping our feet close to the earth, so that we are able to diggest the differences between countries, cultures and landscapes. We have always had enough time to do it this way too. The second option, the one with a plane involved, had been a temptation before since one can travel fast and easy between two points in a matter of hours, not weeks. We did the usual research –internet, travel agencies, other travellers…- and finally decided that we were flying this time.

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    On one side of the balance was our desire to come back to Laos and visit the north of the country, which we were not able to visit on our prior trip because of our camera problem. Crossing the border by land would have been paying 60 USD for a 30 days visa plus the usual problems and delays of any trip in Laos. On the other side of the balance was our desire to finally visit the south of Thailand, the beaches, the islands… and their laid back atmosphere, all this for just a mouse click and 70 USD. So, it was difficult, but we finally took a decission. We booked our flight from Hanoi to Bangkok with Air Asia –a low fare airline- and it only took us 2 hours to be back in our preferred asian metropole, nice and easy!

  • Hanoi is… well, Hanoi is busy!

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    Many travellers had explained good things to us about Hanoi, so it sound really exiciting to us and we were looking forward to visit it since we entered the country some weeks ago. We arrived by sleeping bus early in the morning and had to walk with our backpacks for a couple of hours before we could find a hotel room in a good condition and for less than 12 USD. Our first impression of the city was so-so: small streets with loads of traffic, drivers sounding their horns every 5 metres, pavements being used as a parking and not as a walking path… and three basic things for us, coffee, food and accommodation, were expensive. What did people find so cool about Hanoi? Honestly, we found the south of Vietnam much more interesting and appealing.

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    Once we had left our bags in the room and we were able to walk around the city center we started to feel much more interest about the city. The old quarter has nice buildings and alleys and many of the shops remain with an old feeling that could transport you to some decades ago. But there was still the traffic and the noise!! We spent some hours looking for a quieter place to sit down, have something to drink and relax although it seemed to be impossible in the area. So we tried to walk further away but didn’t find any place. At the end we chose the Hoan Kien lake shore as a way to be more distant from the traffic, what ended up by being a good idea. From here we could watch and learn about the life of some locals and about the habits of some tourists, who always do what other tourists do, like taking the same picture of the same thing from the same place –i.e. a picture of the red bridge in the lake.

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    Another day we went on an independent walking tour proposed by our guidebook and visited the highlights of the city –according to the book. It wasn’t as interesting as we had expected so we thought it had arrived the time to decide our next move, whether Sapa or Halong Bay. In Hanoi there are thousands of travel agencies and hotels who organise tours and excursions to any destination in Vietnam. All of them offer similar things but travellers should be aware of false operators who have just copied the name of a reputed agency. This makes the search for the perfect tour a little bit more difficult. Besides, the never ending number of different tour options can confuse the traveller and make him undecided.

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