Hanoi, Vietnam

When I got back to the hostel in Hanoi I dropped off 5kg of laundry, bought a new little backpack to replace the one with the elegant large hole in the top of mine and got fitted for a pair of custom jeans. Back at the hostel I immediately met 3 people in my dorm room who were travelling alone. Three of us went to get a kebab from right nearby, then played a fun card game and socialised for ages until the whole hostel went across the road at 11pm to party in the Hair of the Dog until it got shot down at 12:30. After that a few of us walked to an underground club called the Lighthouse that you can’t hear from the outside so the police don’t shut it down (I think they also bribe them to stay open past the curfew); but it shut only 20 or so minutes after we got there, so about 1:20am.

The next morning I woke at 9, had free breakfast with my roomies before joining in on the walking tour of the old quarter. A Vietnamese guide walked us around the busy markets, shops and a Chinese temple for just over an hour and gave us some interesting information.

After that I was at a loss as to what to do and rather regretting not booking into a day-long city tour. I had some cheap Pho (noodle soup) at a nearby tiny place before ascertaining on my iPhone that one of the lakes, which is listed as a key attraction, was only a 12 minute walk away. I walked there and paid to go into the temple.

I then decided to walk the entire 35 minutes to the Vietnamese Women’s museum. I did so, and looked around for a bit inside.The most interesting part was a documentary on street vendors that was showing: it seems all the annoying street vendors everywhere are poor people who would rather be living in their home villages far from Hanoi but simply have to be in Hanoi selling wears from about 4am to 7pm (including going to the markets every morning) in order to support their families.

After that I decided to walk another half an hour or so to the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which was a funny little propaganda museum about the glories of Ho Chi Minh, the Viet Minh and rising against colonial oppression.

When I finally got back to the hostel (I also decided to walk the half an hour back because it seemed easier than trying to get a taxi) I vowed I would do absolutely no more walking outside of the hostel. It is scary, and I have been nearly run over by at least 2 motorbikes and one cyclist. Although I was getting heaps better at it by the end, I find it thoroughly nerve wracking, and don’t believe it’s true that you just keep walking and they swerve to avoid you. Once a local helped me cross, and he kept waving for me to stop as he judged the traffic. On some of the large divided roads I was crossing closer to the museums they had traffic lights and pedestrian crossings: which was great when they actually obeyed them.

Back at the hostel the others from the night before were still there so we ate some dinner and I sorted some my things for my flight to Madrid the next morning. Excellently, the new fake North Face backpack I bought from a nearby stall must be bigger because everything packed effortlessly.

That night we went on another pub crawl, this time to different venues. The highlight was when I wanted to leave we had to wait until they pulled up the big garage-style door to let us out: presumably there had been police nearby.

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