Hanoi by day

Two of Sarah’s friends arrived at around 5am from Borneo where they’d been fortunate enough to get onto the Orangutan Rehabilitation Program, where orphaned orangs are reared and tended to before being released. This is something I would love to do, but there’s a 2-year waiting list and 2 grand (UK pounds) fee for the privilege. Ouch.

We took a wander around the local area and, in honesty, it’s not that great. Once you’ve seen a dozen different shops, you’ve effectively seen every single one in the area. The people trying to sell you stuff on the streets are a gazillion times more persistent and annoying than the Thais. The fresh fruit’s just as good, though, and about the same price (2000 to 5000 Dong a pineapple).

The traffic’s also utterly mental, even worse that Thailand. Almost everyone here drives a scooter and there seem to be no road rules at all. Horns are constantly being beeped and walking across the road is more a matter of divine guidance and luck than skill or timing.

The girls were looking for a trip to Ha Long Bay and, after shopping about, we headed back to the hostel where they advised us to go for the expensive one with Ocean Tours. The hostel owner has dealt with them for some time and managed to get us a small discount as well. Having said that, it was onlu $US50 for two days (food and accomodation included, plus all the little excursions), which seemed decent value.

In the evening, we joined a larger group and headed out for some food. The Sky Café is recommended. They do everything from Vietnamese food through Thai to burgers and pizza. I had a rather nice chicken burger for 30,000 Dong – A shade over a pound.

Afterwards, we walked up the road for some Bia Hoi – local beer. Houses open their fronts up and put little plastic chairs and tables down for you to sit and and enjoy the locally produced beer. It’s not strong, but tastes nice and is only 2000 Dong a glass (somewhere between a half and a pint). Yup, that’s roughly 8 pence. Barracuda called again, though not for as long this time as I had an early rise for pickup for the tour.

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