The excitement had been building for weeks and finally Rupert was in kennels, house clean and we were packed and ready to go
Saturday 24th January 2015
And we’re off. Plan is to park car in long stay car park in Dublin airport as Ciaran is in France skiing he will collect it when his flight lands on Tuesday, so checked in, ready to go and we’re off
Only a 2 hour stopover which, by the time we found where we had to go it was almost time to board again.
An uneventful if long flight and we’ve a 5 1/2 stopover. We found somewhere to park ourselves and charge our devices but time crawled by. Finally it was time to board again.
Hanoi Sunday 25th January
27 hours and 10 mins door to door and we’re exhausted. Our driver is waiting for us and we set off to the hotel. Traffic is bedlam with motorbikes everywhere. There seems to be no rules of the road and its hot and we’re tired. Our hotel is the http://hongngochotels.com/our-hotels/hong-ngoc-cochinchine/ Having read reviews I was dreading a noisy, windowless room so was pleasantly surprised when we were seven floors up and had windows. It’s not a luzury hotel but it is clean. We have 2 nights here as our trip with Intrepid doesn’t officially start till Monday at 6pm this means we have a day and a half to ourselves and so it was time to explore.
Our hotel, we discovered, is in a terrific location, right in the middle of the Old Quarter. One thing we must buy are 2 silk sleeping bags. Our journey includes an overnight on a boat and an overnight on a train. We’ve been advised that, although, many of the hotels are basic they should be clean but a silk sleeping bag is recommended. So the hunt starts. It is bedlam. We cannot cross any road. Cars and bikes are everywhere and everyone uses their horns. I decide the only way to cross is to go on the safe side of a Vietnamese and follow them. It doesn’t take long to learn that once you step forward you keep moving, constantly looking and don’t hesitate or you’ll be stranded in the middle of the road.
We make our way to Hoan Kiem Lake and take a walk to the entrance of Ngoc Son Temple, which means Crossing the Bridge. We decide not to pay to enter and then I spot the Water Puppet Theatre. As we were determined to stay awake as long as possible we decide to go to see it. However this meant crossing a major junction with traffic everywhere and suddenly an old Vietnamese lady using a walking aid, grabs Bob to help her across. This was truly the blind leading the blind. Meanwhile I’ve decided that I’m a natural Jay Walker! The 18.30 show is booked so we go for coffee and buy tickets for the 20.00 showing. It is fantastic and I’d recommend everyone to go. Very clever production despite me nodding off! We head back to the hotel, God if only it was that easy! We ended up smack bang in the middle of the night market. Finally we were glad to see our beds and fell in
Monday 26th January
Breakfast was ok, yet again I am travelling with my kettle, coffee, sugar, creamer and my travel mug. I just need my coffee. Just as we are about to leave we meet the Diamonds, Philip and Beth, from Northern Ireland and discover they will be part of our group. I do find myself looking at people wondering if we will be travelling with them. For a city as large as Hanoi it’s very weird that we keep bumping into them. Our day takes us to many interesting places Hoa Loa Prison usually known as the Hanoi Hilton. Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex , Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Stilt House, The Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh Museum. We walked all around the lake and I also bought a pair of Vietnamese trousers and before long it was time to return to the hotel, shower and meet the other members of our group.
Hanoi 18.00 Day 1 of Intrepid Tour – Best of Vietnam and Cambodia
We arrive to discover we are a group of 16 of whom 9 are late as they’ve just arrived from Laos. Our group are as follows
Khnah – Leader
Vin, 22 – Australia
Ben and Janelle, 26 – Australia
Daniela, 27 – Australia
Marissa, 28 – Switzerland
Debbie, 38 – UK
Bob and I – Ireland
Philip and Beth – Northern Ireland
Ed and Debbie – Canada
Pauline – Australia
John – Ireland
Tracy – UK
Bill – USA
So out of the 16
5 are Irish
5 – Australian
2 from UK
There are 4 couples, 3 single men and 5 single girls.
It is decided that the 9 who have travelled from Thailand through Laos to Hanoi will continue to share so of that 9 the single girls are Pauline, Tracy and Daniela. As no one has paid a single supplement they will rotate among each other with one having a single room. The 3 single men will do the same and Debbie and Marissa will share the whole way through. Vin is the youngest of the group and I hear from the others that he has to be minded as it is his first trip and he sometimes gets lost. Bill is the eldest, quite odd and not chatty at all. Khanh, our leader, seems very nice and after giving our insurance details and kitty money – for bus drivers, porters, etc we head off for a group meal. Khanh made the recommendations and we ate a delicious meal and then John, Bob and I headed for a bar. John is determined to make this a good holiday. We are too but I’m not sure I want him latching onto us. He’s 66, separated and enjoys ‘Thai Women’! Finally I get them out and we return as we’ve an early start in the morning