"Our adventures in Vietnam" Vietnam by lindyz
Vietnam Travel Guide: 12,414 reviews and 30,517 photos
Our flight left Sydney on Friday 17th Feb 2006 at 11.35am and arrived in HCMC at 3.50pm, a 2hr wait, then to Hanoi at 6pm. We got to our Hotel very late about 10pm very tired. We stayed at 1of the Hong Ngoc Hotels in Hanoi, it was a budget hotel in a package we had booked to do Halong Bay. When we were going up to our room, we both became excited because we were on the top floor, so we thought we may have the penthouse suite!? Well we couldnt have been more wrong. We were in a tiny little room under the laundry. The beds were half the size of a single and hard as rock. We woke up the next morning feeling very tired, opened the window hoping to see a beautiful view. We were right in the heart of the "Old Quarter" and all we could see was slums, rooftops and laundry and it was grey, cloudy and raining.
And then my headache worsened and I started vomitting - another migraine. I really wanted to go home. Our first day was spent doing very little a stroll and we went to the Water Puppet Theatre. This picture was when this pineapple woman pretty much put the wooden stick on my shoulder and Im like going "no no no" and she's like "you take photo" and Im still like "no no no" and she's like "YOU TAKE PHOTO!!!" Ok so now she kinda seems to be getting a bit angry so I said to Tracy take the photo, which she did. And then she says "NOW you MUST buy my pineapples!!!" So after trying to get her exorbitant price down a little, we ended up buying 2 rather expensive pineapples. Anyway the next morning we left for our Halong Bay trip. We were allowed to leave all our stuff in the room. So we left the 2 pineapples in the fridge. Get back from Halong Bay, and THE BLOODY PINEAPPLES WERE GONE! The room staff must have taken them! So thats my story of getting ripped off by the Pineapply Lady of Hanoi!
Day 2 - our pick-up for Halong Bay came at 8.30am - we were off and ready for adventure, weather was cold, wasnt really expecting our first purchase in Vietnam to be a fur lined coat! It was a 3hr trip to Halong Bay and we boarded our "Junk" at about 1pm. Halong Bay is indeed magical, it wouldve been even nicer if the sun had shone just once the whole time we were there! I would recommend an overnite stay on a Junk in Halong Bay, but do it in summer! Note - none of the glossy brochures will tell you that to get off the boat you need to climb onto the roof and "boat'hop" to get to the wharf!!! We have some funny memories from that trip indeed and some hilarious video footage of the boat trying to park.
Day 3 - We got off boat at the wharf at noon then 3hr drive back to Hanoi. Another very funny memory is our cyclo ride through the streets of the Old Quarter. Anyone who has been to Hanoi will know what the traffic is like. When you are on a cyclo, you are in the front and the guy peddling is in the back, so you are virtually a "Human target" - it was so funny.
Probably our funniest, weirdest and scariest memory happens next. We attempt to go out for tea, after a few vodkas in our room for happy hour! We walk, cant find anyplace interesting, so buy some fanta and go back to the room for a few more vodkas. Same again, go out, cant find somewhere go back to the room, a few more vodkas, then we gave up, we just keep drinking. Go to sleep, wake up the next morning, a little bit hung-over, *** - cant find our money bags anywhere, we searched, then assumed we must have put them in the safe. BUT we cant find the safe key. HOW MUCH DID WE DRINK LAST NITE? We searched our room for an hour, still cant find the key, so I ring reception and ask them to come and open safe. In between then and when they arrived, the key magically appeared on our bedside table, where we had looked a hundred times already. Open the safe and there it all is, money and passports. Pheww we had left the window open all night and had thought that someone had got in and taken it all and we were doomed to live out our dieing days ... in the "Old Quarter"!!! Very funny memory now - but at the time we were dead scared.
Day 4 - flight to Hoi-Ann at 11.45am, arrive at our room at the Hoi-Ann Beach Resort at 3pm - WE ARE IN HEAVEN NOW!!! The room is HUGE, the bed is HUGE, it is just gorgeous, and the weather is warmer! We settled in, checked out the resort, changed some money, bought some souvenirs, and then went and had a massage. Baileys Happy Hour on our balcony, then tea in the Restaurant - a perfect day.
Day 5 - Today we caught a bus into town and SHOPPED SHOPPED SHOPPED! We also swam in the pool, had a manicure and a pedicure and had tea at the Restaurant again. Now .... this is a holiday. Nothing to do but shop, relax, eat and get pampered!
Day 6 - Our time in Hoi-Ann had come to an end. More shopping today, then fly to HCMC at 5pm. Got to our Hotel in HCMC at 6.30pm. We stayed at the Duxton and it was 4-5 star pure luxury. Very central and just gorgeous. I wouldnt hesitate to stay here again.
Our time in HCMC was mainly spent shopping. We also managed to fit in each and every day one hour of sunbaking and swimming at the pool. We did most of our buying at the Ben Tanh Markets which were only about a 15 minute walk from us. We only did 2 tours. A day trip on the Mekong which was nice, but I wouldnt overly rave about it. We also did the Chu Chi Tunnels half day trip, which we both found fascinating - I would recommend you do this. Especially to go down in the tunnels. There is about a 15metre stretch of tunnel you can go in, which has been made larger for tourists to fit. I felt brave enough to do it, Tracy opted out. However .... once you are in there, crawling through it, it becomes extremely claustrophobic and you just cant wait to get out, and it seems to take forever to reach the end. My favourite Vietnam snap is of me in the tunnel. I will try and locate it - cant find my photos on the pc. GUESS WHAT - I FOUND THEM!
We both thoroughly loved our time in Vietnam and were actually quite proud to have done 2 weeks there - NOT ON A GROUP TOUR, as we were told it could not be done.
My parting memory of Vietnam was a very scary one and one I will never forget. Get to the airport, luggage checked in, as we go to board and hand the lady our boarding pass, she says to me "Wait on the side lady. There is a problem with your luggage and we have found an illegal substance in it" WHAT!!??????? I waited and waited and waited for what seemed like hours. I said to Tracy "Dont you dar get on that plane without me!" Finally they take me all the way back to the Airport entrance. I was nervous as hell, thinking someone had put drugs or something in my suitcase and I would end up in a Vietnam jail. They say dont act nervous or that will make them think you have something to hide - HOW CAN YOU NOT ACT NERVOUS!? Got to my suitcase, opened it, and they said the illegal substance was copy CD's!!!!!!! Can you believe that? They sell them on every street corner, yet it is illegal to take them out of the country?? Admitedly I had lots and I had positioned them all through my suitcase so it looked like I had thousands of them. Tracy had put them all in one pile, so they probably only thought she had a few. Anyway, I talked my way out of keeping them, I didnt want to be nasty to the guys, cos then they would stick it to me, and not put my suitcase on the plane! I made it back to check-in with out 5 minutes to spare and was freaking out all the way back to Sydney, hoping they had actually put my suitcase back on the plane!! GUESS WHAT??? When your case is the last to go on the plane, ITS THE FIRST ONE TO COME OFF!!! What a relief that was ... to see my suitcase ... and to be back in Australia!!!
Overall ... I would not hesitate to go back to Vietnam. Many funny memories and plenty more to do and see and buy!
- Pros:A very interesting mix of everything - culture, climate, food, architecture, and shopping!
- Cons:Sometimes difficult to find someone who speaks enough English to understand what you want
- In a nutshell:So much to see and do - a dozen different countries wrapped into one!
On our bus trip to get to Halong Bay, we were amazed looking out the window at the beautiful architecture. You would... more travel advice
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