9 January 2013
Today we set off for a walking tour of the city taking in the unfortunately named ‘That Dam’ Stupa, shopping malls and massive local markets selling everything imaginable and some things that weren’t. And we stroll through the shaded peaceful grounds of a temple to see the local Arc de Triomphe on the other side. Kom is not allowed to officially guide us in Laos so he points it out and leaves us to view it ourselves although none of us feels the need to climb it. The sun is really heating up now so we try to take the shaded streets back to the hotel but we overshoot the road and end up viewing the Presidential Palace as well.
We have to check out of our rooms and find some lunch before we head to the airport sadly leaving Laos and heading for Hanoi where it is 12C and raining.
We share our flight with some VIPs that we are told included the President of Laos. We were held up at both ends while they were ushered on and off the plane.
Arriving in Hanoi was a big culture shock: 9 million people with 4.5m motorbikes and at least as many bicycles. It is rush hour when we arrive and the bus ride was terrifying and even just trying to cross the street to the hotel we were taking our lives into our own hands. Dinner was at a restaurant just a short walk away but we walked in single file terrified of getting separated weaving in and out of motorbikes, cars and masses of people going about their daily lives.
You only need a square metre of space to start a business in Vietnam perhaps a small table and a couple of chairs or a basket. Motorbikes and bicycles are used to transport everything you could possibly imagine: from wardrobes to families of 6 to seemingly an entire flower shops to mountains of boxes or even large animals. Our hotel is in the old quarter with a multitude of little streets all with their type of shop e.g. jewellery street, toy street, hardware street. On the way we pass through the French quarter with beautiful French colonial architecture now painted saffron yellow to indicate that they are governmental buildings.
I take my first 4 million dong out of the bank. Exchange rate approx 20,000 dong = $1NZ
Hello Xin chao (sin chow)
Thank you Cam on (gum urn)
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.