Saturday 16th August
Off the train we jump at around 5am and back into the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. It took 20 minutes of us wandering around the taxi rank to figure out a lift back to the hotel was NOT included in the tour and in fact we were now left to our own devices once we left the train hehee. This was not a problem, we just felt a little silly. So we jumped in a taxi back to the hotel who then ordered us another one to take us to the airport. This is a much cheaper way to use taxis, using the hotels to book them for you, and the staff are so obliging and will move heaven and earth if you asked them to. So genuinely sweet.
Once at the airport we had a little breakfast and just relaxed waiting for our flight. Hanoi airport is amazing by the way – clean and bright and simple and a nice size. Enough space to wander for a couple of hours but you can equally just sit in one of the plentiful seats and people watch. There were a couple of toddlers running around barefoot near us having a great time. The closest shop had a giant plastic yellow Haribo bear stand with all the little sweet bags on it and one father took his little boy to go say hello to it. It didn’t have anyone in it or anything, was just a model, with one arm positioned up in the air waving. The man took the hand and was making his kid shake hands with the bear and it was cute moment until the whole arm came off in their hands! It was so funny and the mum came to snatch away the baby and left the dad to fix it. Hahaa you had to be there.
The flight was smooth and only an hour long so a little nap was in order, despite the bored little boy behind us singing his heart out to a Vietnamese song. When we landed we said goodbye to the lovely Dutch couple who’d travelled with us since Sapa and took a short taxi ride to our next hotel, beachside! It’s pretty basic but absolutely fine and to be honest has a homely feel to it as the family who run it live downstairs in a few rooms and their big open kitchen is just in the reception area behind a big fish tank. I like the feeling here. Casual but will help you if they can. We dumped our stuff in the room, didn’t bother showering or brushing our teeth and headed out to the beach.
Our little hotel has only a few rooms, under 20 I think, and is costing us 27euros for 2 nights including breakfast. Now over the wide road in front are two massive complexes, resort villages I guess, that literally stretch for a km at least, that you have to walk back along the road to get around them to the beach. So the beach is only 200m infront of us but you have to walk about 1km to get to it – not a problem at all. You definitely jump straight in the sea when you get there though as there’s not much shade along the way! And yep, I was jumping in the sea. Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t really do the sea but in 35 degree plus heat and on a 17km white sandy beach with not a person in sight, and the clear turquoise water inviting you in it’s impossible not to go in! It was about half 12 by this time and whoa was the sea hot, like literally (just thought of my good friend Nick who pointed out my overuse of the word literally haha) hotter than you’d have your bath. I kept checking a certain someone wasn’t peeing…
We splashed around and took lots of pics of this paradise beach – no joke we only came across one other human being when we walked along the water for a while – and after a bit asked a guard at the back of one of the giant resorts if we could rent their sunbeds on the beach. We were finding it difficult to be out in the sun! He said we can pay 420,000 dong for the two of us to use the sunbeds and also the pool of the resort… that’s about 7euros each a day and it was tempting but at that moment we spotted some nearby palm trees and declined, choosing the natural free shade of the trees – it was wonderful and breezy and shady and sandy – bliss.
After an hour or so of relaxing we went to the first restaurant we found on the beach and had a beefy lunch, then back to the room for siesta and showers. We have another one of those bathrooms with a shower without a curtain or ledge or anything but this one is so big you can shower without soaking the toilet and your toothbrush. Quite nice actually, open air feel to it. Anyway Javi fell asleep instantly while I blogged my thumbs off trying to catch up (still a day behind dammit, but I’m getting there) and by the time we were both done the sun was setting. We didn’t mind though as we needed to relax after a lot of activity the last week so no time was wasted. We threw our key in the basket behind reception and left the hotel to grab a taxi into the city centre. In very broken English the hotel staff had advised us to just get a taxi to the centre where there are a ton of restaurants, but the taxi driver spoke even less English so after 10 minutes we were deposited outside a rather expensive looking place. We politely declined the beautiful waitress and walked off down the sparkly street. I say sparkly because this city is all about lights, everything is so twinkly and pretty! We walked back along the road the taxi had brought us as we’d passed the bridge with the dragon on it. This bridge is so cool! The architecture is very impressive – a loooong dragon is in the middle of the lanes and winds itself up and down, think Loch Ness, over and under the bridge, ending in a giant head at the other end. It’s made out of steel, the whole structure is 2,200ft long and the four year project was completed in March 2013. It’s all lit up and changes colour every minute or so, blue, pink, orange, red, blue, green – we stood for a while and I snapped lots of pictures. Then we walked over the bridge and it was sweet to see lots of young couples and families just parking up their bikes and watching the river flow by – it seemed to be the meeting point for lots of people too. Guess you can’t miss the Dragon Bridge, Cau Rong in Vietnamese. Apparently at 9pm each night it breathes fire but we didn’t know that tonight so maybe tomorrow we’ll see it!
We crossed over the river and found a promising looking menu outside a big empty club bar type place. When they led us up the stairs we came out onto a gorgeous spacious terrace with other couples and a business group seated in front of fans. There was a nice breeze so we sat on the edge and ordered some delicious sounding Thai food – delish it was! I had crispy chicken and vegetables and Javi had chicken, noodle and veg dish – phwoar both were so yummy, I’m salivating now as I type this. Also trying not to snot everywhere as I got off the damn train with a wonderful fully fledged cold argh. Yucky, as my kids at work would say.
We were pretty knackered after food so got a taxi back to the hotel. As we were driving I loved seeing so many people out on the streets all sitting on the mini plastic stools they use here and eating from stands on every corner. Seriously ever inch of pavement that was empty when we walked through a couple of hours previously was now chocka with people. It was such a nice atmosphere that when we were on the beachfront strip we told the taxi driver to let us out there so we could soak it up. We strolled along for a bit and then onto the beach and the cool cool sand. Aaaah so relieving on our feet after burning them earlier on it! We walked along the water, passing a DJ set up going on at one of the restaurants with hundreds of people all sitting on the sand or at tables. It was very loud but we enjoyed slowly wandering through on the outskirts. The beach was alive in the dark with couples of all ages and families and tourists – really nice.
Now we’re back in the room and soooo ready for bed. Until tomorrow people!
Oo I forgot to tell you about the crash we witnessed! We were just about to cross the road (less bikes here but more cars and also 4 lanes of traffic so scary) and were discussing whether we should rent a motorbike tomorrow when we heard a scrape and a clunk and turned to see a huge tourist coach just barrel past a tourist on a scooter, crunching the front of the bike but luckily not the guys legs. We couldn’t believe it coz the tourist was stopped waiting to turn and the bus completely just crossed and drove into him! The poor guy was then stuck in the middle of the road as the front wheel had been forced out of place and so wouldn’t turn. Javi ran over to help and they carried the thing over to the pavement. The bus had stopped a little way down the road, probably only coz the tourists were making him. I say that as when the guy from the bike started hobbling over to the bus the driver took off! Can you believe it?! He wasn’t hurt but I’m sure he bashed his leg and will be in shock later, poor guy! Well, that answered our question of whether to hire a bike or not aye!