Sunday, 8 September 2013

Holla from Hanoi


So we arrived in Vietnam via a day bus. No smelly feet sleeper buses for us this time. That meant that we arrived from Nanning, China] into Hanoi around 3pm. Perfect time to get out, enjoy some local food and perhaps even a cheeky beer.


We quickly learnt that Hanoi is crazy. Wonderfully crazy, but still crazy. The roads are bustling to the brim with scooter drivers, rickshaws, taxis and motorbikes! However, they all seemed very used to the situation and you could cross the road blindfolded and not be hit by anyone. It was like they had built-in bat sonar on their vehicles.




It wasn't long before we had found ourselves a nice street bar where we could sit down with a particularly inexpensive local delicacy Bia Hoi. Often called the cheapest beer in the world, Bia Hoi is essentially local home-brew beer that is sold on street corners of Hanoi. For the costly sum of 5000 Viet Dong's ($0.25) you get yourself a scooner's worth of pretty drinkable goon.




Obviously this means that the side streets are full of happy people (locals and tourists) sharing stories and enjoying each others company. Perhaps the cheap beer contributes to Vietnam's safe atmosphere, but despite the sun going down leaving us not really knowing where we were, but sitting on the curb of a side street in a city we had only arrived in 6 hours earlier, we felt very much at ease with the place.




With an atmosphere this joyous it wasn't really surprising when we were invited to go meet one of our new drinking buddies friends. This is how we met the guys at Vietnam Motorbikes. Started up by a New Zealand couple who had moved to Vietnam to set up their own company, of selling motorbikes and giving bike tours.




So before we headed back to our hostel for the night, the beers had done their work and we had come up with a rough plan to buy a couple of Win-100 bike's and drive them down to Ho Chi Minh city where we could quite easily sell them on from there.







The next day, with the weather playing up (it is the rainy season after all), we took a brief walk around some of the pretty temples and lakes that Hanoi has to offer. As we were walking around West Lake, we watched in amazement as one of the fishermen appeared to have caught himself a sea snake!




Ever the one to help, and after watching the guy struggle to find a knife that would be able to cut the head off, I remembered that I had a swiss army knife on me and offered my services as head remover. So I got down and crunched the knife through the snake until it rather gruesomely popped off. A
definite first for me.




Sea or Water snakes in Vietnam are fairly common but when we spoke to some locals afterwards they said they rarely see them in Hanoi. So in a way we were pretty lucky. From what I can gather it looks like it was a Dog-faced Water Snake, which is mildly venomous! Another brush with danger for this avid adventurer!






We made our way back to Hanoi's old town to organise the bikes for our trip, and fortunately the guys offered us some lessons which we gratefully took advantage of. So before we knew it we were back around West Lake hanging onto the back of the bike, getting to grips with clutch control and gear changes. It was just like at the beginning of the trip when I kept stalling the Renault on the roundabouts in Devon. However, it wasn't long before we had the basics sorted.





Later that evening we made our way around the winding side streets of Hanoi's old town and treated ourselves to some more of the delicious Vietnamese Pho.




As we walked back with our bellies full we dipped into a little bar for a liquid dessert. Moving into Vietnam from Mongolia and China you really do feel as though you are now on a tourist trail, and the only other patrons of the bar we had entered were four giggling English, Scottish and Australian girls.




It wasn't long before we had said hello, and moved over to join them for some more dessert. With sole reign of the jukebox, the hours seemed to disappear as the night descended into one of barefoot dancing and tequila shots.





Only vaguely remembering the nights events we woke up feeling less than chipper and certainly not capable of riding a bike. Therefore we opted for one more day in Hanoi, but tomorrow we will start our drive down the coast via Hoi An and all the way along to Saigon.

* Some photos were taken on my iphone hence the not so great quality.  Apologies! 

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