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Hanoi City

October 15th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 06-Vietnam - (3 Comments)

Imagine a city where the exotic chic of old Asia blends with the dynamic face of new Asia.  Where the medieval and modern co-exist.  A city with a blend of Parisian grace and Asian pace, an architectural museum piece evolving in harmony with its history, rather than bulldozing through like many of the region’s capitals.  Hanoi is where imagination becomes reality (lonely Planet).

Couldn’t sum it up better ourselves – throughout our stay we have dodged the swarms of crazy motorbikes, weaved our way through the tangled web of streets in the old quarter, watched synchronised t’ai chi along the Hoan Kiem Lake and got a real taste for cafe culture while sipping bia (beer) and sometimes coffee with the locals.  Hanoi has it all, you couldn’t but enjoy this great city.

For us above all else was the buzz and character of the old quarter – you will see by the photographs – it has a real mix: an ancient history, a colonial legacy and a modern outlook.  We wished we could stay longer than five days but we must move on.  The further north of Vietnam you go the better it gets for sure.

This about sums us the motorbike scene, sometimes as many as four children are transported by a guardian, madness!

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Beer o’clock

October 8th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 06-Vietnam - (6 Comments)

Just to make you all jealous back home, we are sitting in Hanoi central having a bia (beer) watching the world go by – can it get any better?

Hanoi is a bustling city with plenty of commerce, vibe and culture.  Will provide you with more over the next day or so – now it’s back to my bia and you get back to work .

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Chinese Embassy

October 8th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 06-Vietnam - (1 Comments)

Having been refused our Chinese visas in Kathmandu, we though we would give it another try here in Hanoi, and if successful we could travel into China from northern Vietnam.  Rather stupidly we went straight from the bus station to the embassy following our 18hr bus ride thinking that the visa process would take only a matter of minutes.

We waited 3hrs before we got to the front of a very short queue.  Not sure how substantiated this is, but were told that the embassy has an agreement with many travel agents and preferred that applicants use this service rather than visit the embassy itself, but they charge double and in some cases triple the price.  So as to deter, they only let a trickle in at a time.

Anyway, when we got the front we were told that we could not enter because we were wearing sandals and not shoes – a root through the backpack, a quick change and up to the front again, “sorry you need to change your top, it’s too revealing”, are you having a F***ing laugh.  Did I mention that all the Chinese could wear what they F***ing wanted, flip flops, sandals, see through tops, mini-skirts etc…  There were about ten of us ‘westerners’ changing galore just so we could move from the queue and enter the building.  Bear in mind most had no additional clothes or shoes with them, so those who had successfully submitted their applications were swapping clothes and shoes with those waiting in the queue – a sight for very tired eyes!

Appropriately dressed and having moved to the front again, we were then told that our documentation was insufficient – not according to the signs – apparently we were missing a photocopy of our Vietnamese visa.  This was complete bollocks as the visa was in our damn passports, why would we also need a photocopy.  By this point the gate was locked so we had to kindly ask those outside to go a few blocks down to photocopy our passports, thankfully they did.

During this time several brawls had broken out between security and those who had been refused entry, batons were drawn to usher them off the premises. We kept our heads low and done what we could to ensure we got in.  We were laughing throughout so it wasn’t all bad.

These photos are pretty tame, we wouldn’t dare take out our camera once we got near the front of the queue where most of the comotion happened.

We find out on Friday if our visa applications are successful. 

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Sleeper bus

October 8th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 06-Vietnam - (2 Comments)

We finally arrived in Hanoi following an 18hr sleeper bus journey from Hoi An ($18).  We have yet to complete a such a journey on time and true to form we were 2hrs late.  Not all that interesting but we though you would like to see the inside of the bus. 

This journey has been the most comfortable we’ve had to date.  Half the bus was your standard upright seats for the short distance travellers and the remaining for long haul. We watched two movies, played on our ipods and talked to our neighbours for the most part. We slept an uncomfortable four hours in total and when we arrived we went to the Chinese Embassy (next post) had a few drinks, a meal and a good 12hrs sleep to catch up.

As I write this post, we are both sat eagerly awaiting the 3rd US Presidential Debate, and hope that Obama can outmanoeuvre that tosser McCain.  America and the wider world could do without a repeat of the Bush administration.

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Seriously chilled out

October 6th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 06-Vietnam - (2 Comments)

Your probably wondering where are all the posts on Hoi An, well, we are far too chilled out to muster the energy or creativity to even think of getting the laptop out – sorry!

We cannot speak highly enough of this amazing place, it’s so beautiful, friendly and relaxed, it’s contagious. In addition to the photos detailed below, we have coupled a few more here on our picture tab to give you a taste of what we’ve had to endure over the last few days – it might take a few days to upload them all.  We had only planned on staying a couple of nights but have stayed four.

We rented a couple of bicycles for the few days and headed to the beach – unbelievably it’s not mentioned in the Lonely Planet – we swam in the hotel pool, eat and drank till the early hours and window shopped till we dropped – life cannot get any better than this.

We are off to Hanoi today on the dreaded sleeper bus for 16–18hrs, so there may be an ever longer delay in the posts for a time.

Just to give you a flavour of how chilled this place is we’ll start with a photo of the local bank, absolutely incredible!  Hoi An is the perfect holiday destination, without question.

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