Chào Hà Nội

Yeah, back here again after a restful couple of days in Singapore. A quick catch-up as it really was restful:

I lazed around the hostel, updating blogs and emailing people. Went on the walk around Bugis with Karen and a bunch of tourists (hey – I keep forgetting I am a tourist) for the second time. I was quite pleased I remembered everything she’d told me the first time around.

After deciding on an early night, I stayed up until 5am talking to some people who came rolling in drunk before forcing my itchy eyes open after far too little sleep to try and convince people to go to the water park with me. Which failed. At least a lot of them were heading to the zoo which is a worthwhile alternative. Instead, I loafed. I made a start on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but gave up after two days. It’s crap. Avoid.

I collected my passport avec visa from the Vietnamese office. They have given me the 14 days I applied for. I was expecting them to give me 30, which is the most they allow, but I did only ask for 14. Still, I’m expecting to only stay there for 10. The extra four are in case flights/buses are full or expensive and I decide to wait it out.

Saturday was spent just chilling out until the evening. Leah – a teacher from the wilds of north Scotchland – and I went to see The Hills Have Eyes 2. Sick, brutal, violent and hugely predictable. Full of “what the hell are you doing?” and “I bet you a tenner he’s not dead” moments.

Back at the hostel we worked on making our eyes bright red by staying up till silly o’clock watching the second Harry Potter film. It got quite a crowd – good choice of film!. Then someone put on From Dusk Till Dawn 3 and everyone left.

Oh, yeah. And I accidentally bought a PlayStation Portable. Given that it was less than half the price I’d pay in the UK I decided to just get the thing. Great for movies and so on, especially when I take a lot of budget flights.

Sunday was the day of my flight so I had the usual rush around packing things and panicking that I’d written down the flight time wrong and stuff. Leah and I took a wander around the Colonial area – me being tour guide again – and I left her in a techie mall looking at cameras as I (literally) ran back to the hostel as I realised I was running late.

Beans on toast comfortably (almost – they were too damn hot) down my throat, I said my goodbyes and pegged it to the airport. It was great to see the people at the hostel again. A shame it’ll be so long until the next time. Hopefully I’ll catch Karen in Europe later in the year. Not sure when I’ll catch up with Dylan and Raj again though.

And then to Hanoi. Again. I got talking to a few people on the minibus who’d just flown in from Vientiane and got dropped off near the Backpackers Hostel. There have been a few changes around the place, but it’s still cosy.

I dumped my bags quickly, ran to an ATM and found a cafe/bar showing the Newcastle match. A great start to what I hope will be another memorable visit. 45 minutes of passably entertaining football, a point against a team I thought we’d get stuffed by, a rather tasty chicken burger, some delicious fresh fruit, a bottle of Hanoi Beer… and I only spent around 2 quid.

It felt like coming home after a long trip. I really do like it here. Tomorrow I’ll sort out my trip to Sapa and maybe catch up with the good folk at Blue Dragon.

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