Well that journey to get here was for some reason sooooo much longer than to India last year. But we are here woohoo! It’s our first night Namming and we are in bed already at 8pm. Look we are both exhausted ok? Plus it’s Javi’s birthday tomorrow so we want to be fresh (and for the rest of the holiday).
I was indeed like a kid at Christmas when we were headed to the airport yesterday in Bilbao (said I would be) and after bumping into the beautiful Family Muir and having cuddles the flight to Paris was smooth and incredibly quick – like 1hour 40mins. We got a measly breakfast consisting of tea or coffee and a croissant – sorry, a MINI croissant – so there wasn’t any time to sleep. My stomach had been delightfully dodgy the day before we left so I instructed myself to be careful with what I ate as I didn’t want to be rushing to the loo over a 24 hour travelling period. Ugh no thank you. Anyway enough of that crap (no disgusting pun intended), we hung out for a few hours, happily exploring the enormous aiport in Paris and snacking on malaria pills.
Due to late passengers we were about an hour late to take off but we didn’t really mind too much, just kind of felt like we were procrastinating going on a plane for 12hours. We were seated in the middle of the four middle seats, so kinda the worst seats but no worries because thankfully the journey passed fairly easily. The young girl next to me and the old girl next to Javi frequently got up so loo breaks weren’t a problem. I kept getting the giggles though at one point because my neighbour was watching my TV screen which was showing like a gag show playing pranks on people, and she was having a whale of a time, laughing her head off watching it all without sound. Made me laugh more than the show. They did the whole bodyclock sync thing which was appreciated and made everyone close their shutters to the blaring sun and go to sleep. We got dinner and breakfast and several hot (burny if you ask me) wet towels on that flight. Great service from nice people.
Next stop was China. The airport was huge but our waiting area fairly small so despite just getting off a long haul flight that made our legs ache and also being an hour late so shortening the layover time, we still ended up sitting down to wait. Oh well. Gonna sweat off some weight in Vietnam right? Right? So eventually onto the next plane we go, both of us feeling like zombies and barely able to keep our eyes open. In fact we were delayed again and had to sit on the tarmac for nearly an hour so we were both snoring by the time we took off. That was just a quickie – 1hour and 30minutes.
FINALLY we touchdown in the beautiful Vietnam. I know this because since the cabin staff woke me up with lunch I’d been gaping out the window at the mountains and huge winding river below. So off the plane our wobbly legs take us, heads spinning due to lack of sleep, too much food, and a very sticky 34 degrees to greet us, we go sit by the baggage belt. And sit. I go pee. And then I come back to sit. Eventually we see a beautiful china doll type lady come and drag off the straggling pieces of luggage and she tells us few couples who are still waiting that that’s it from China. Er, you what now?! We go through the very polite motions with baggage claim and I’m actually totally calm until we walk through the arrivals gate and feel a bit tearful. It’s due to lack of sleep honest – literally 90% of my stuff was brand new so no bond had been formed (and I have 3000euros baggage cover, that fact may have helped) but Javi’s bag is cool and sentimental to him, so it was a horrible moment. The only thing of true value in my bag is my lifesaving DEET!
Anyway, I spend too much time focusing on the bad because really everything was fine. We come out and change up euros to some funky looking money with large numbers on them, and an absolutely wonderful young lady books us a taxi to drive us the hour to our hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. The price is told to you in US dollars (30) so I asked what that was in the local currency (64,440) and then translated that to euros (about 17) and we are off. In a cream leather interior cab with AC and a friendly driver and wait for it, bloody good wifi! You can imagine what came next.
We couldn’t help but compare the taxi journey to the same one we did a year ago in very different conditions in India. Wow. We are falling in love with this place already. Gulp.
When we arrived at our hotel the porter gave us a right giggle because he obviously went and opened the back for luggage and was very amused there was done. Yeeeah. We came upto reception (looking sorry for ourselves, I assume) and she says yep you’re all booked in for 4 years. Hahaa they are such funny, kind people! And so cute when they laugh because they turn into children and cover their mouths with their hands and giggle away. The beautifully dressed woman showed us up to our lovely room (seriously their uniforms here are stunning, all flowy and floor length and bright colours) told us breakfast is 7-10.30 and to get some rest. Great! We had showers and were planning to have a siesta as it was about 3pm by this time but we’d had a bit of life breathed back into us so we went downstairs, had more jokes but with a map thrown in this time too and lots of scribbles on it, and we went out to the streets of Vietnam.
That was six hours ago now and we are already pretty much at home, no fears, no problems, absolutely love the place and the people. If they approach you to sell something to you, they do it once and respectfully back off. Nobody stares at you like you’re made out of bananas as you walk around trying to be a simple tourist. They crack jokes with you. And a big thing, there are no drug needles on the streets here and although I’m sure it’s there, you don’t have poverty, distress and death shoved in your face with every step. I had my big camera out the whole time with no fear and didn’t have to be physically attached to Javi all the time due to risk of kidnap.
We walked and found Hoan Kiem Lake, a smallish lake, not far away which has a pretty little mini stone church pagoda thing in the middle, very cute. We walked round the whole lake, trying not to slip in flip flops on mud on the path. We decided to walk all the way round just to be nosey and honestly, everything seems so great here! Numerous old biddies doing stretching and yoga on the lakes bed, weird fit expats jogging and lapping us!, and lots of people everywhere – just enjoyed taking it all in. Did an emergency shop at the local supermarket and as we started heading home stopped at a Cathedral/theatre venue because it was pretty to photograph and decided to pop right in to watch the water puppets show that was just about to start. What a weird affair! I mean yes there’s talent (or strength) involved as these puppets are held in the water by a thick wooden pole hidden just under the water. Gotta be strong for that! Anyway we both nearly fell asleep through it NOT because it was boring but because we had our own fan and the music and singing was extremely hypnotising! The people puppets were pretty creepy, stuff of nightmares in fact, but the animal ones were beautiful and looked majestic moving across the water.
Coming out like zombies again we agreed to have dinner and crash for an early night. If we made it that far. Well, before we ate we went and had a chat with a tour operator and got some reallly cool ideas for the next week or so. Hmm. Thinking.
Then came dinner. Normal affair, neither of us was starving but knew we had to eat to survive, in a little oriental bar place. I sat next to a nice little fish rank. Yep, I did. We get home, well I got home first and the cheeky receptionist told me our bags should be here by tomoro 4pm! Gooooooddd I screamed with happiness! I can wear make up for Javi’s birthday!
So I really am falling asleep now as I finish this off. Ugh. Yawn. Fresh for tomorrow!!