14.07.2011 - 26.08.2011 35 °C
Stayed in the Hanoi view 2 hotel which was cheap $20 a night and brand new inside. Breakfast supplied (although they never got our orders right was always tasty and right outside the door were the markets where they sold whole roasted dog, herbs, meats, donuts etc. Was walking distance to the Chinese embassy so were were able to get our visa for china.
Were a couple of good places to eat, the r n r bar was a favourite that played lots of led zep, the doors etc and sold Mexican food, fish n chips and burgers when we needed a break from noodles and rice. If you don't eat anywhere else in Hanoi MAKE SURE you eat at Quan An Ngon which is located 18 Phan Boi Chau. T: (04) 3942 8162. There is a restaurant on the way which has a similar name so don't get them mixed up. This place is big and yellow with sails as a roof and brown timber seating. Cheap delicious food and a great atmosphere, plenty to look at while you eat!!
There's also weasel coffee for sale in Hanoi near the lake in the old district, this is actually made from beans that have been eaten by a cat like creature, pooped out, hand collected, washed and sold. Cant say that I tried any but I heard it mellows the taste. The old centre is by far the most touristy and you'll find the usual street vendors trying to rip you off and feigning that they can't speak English or have no change, all the regular junk for sale. Not as nice as nha trang - no beach. More corrupt and more deaths on the road than saigon. Met a couple of expats living there who said bus drivers can kill 3 people before their license is taken from them and if your motorbike gets stolen the cops will ask how much it's worth and demand half before they start looking for it.
Seemed to have a good nightlife if you're into drinking etc but not much to actually see and do apart from eating, drinking and shopping. Was worth it just to see the whole roasted dog at the stalls outside the hotel though.
Halong Bay was amazing though, we stayed on a small junk with a group of about 15 others from around the world (Christina was the name of the company) boat was surprising comfortable and well decorated inside especially for the price. View was amazing, boat had a sundeck and we just cruised past the islands and visited a huge cave (surprise cave) and a fishing village. So beautiful would highly, highly recommend. At night dinner was served which was all local food and while drinking a couple of cocktails we did a bit of cuttle fishing off the side of he boat - didnt catch anything but was still great fun.
Surprise at the end of surprise cave ....