19 May
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
Number of flights.  Click here to go to the itinerary page.
Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
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Number of times scammed.  Click here to read all about it!  (2 posts)
Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

30 November 2018

Hanoi insanoi



23 November 2018

The Vietnamese are cheeky f*ckers, they really are. As an example, take this picture of a video display in the Hanoi Citadel. This is a major museum in the capital city. Reeeeally? Anyway, we’ve only been here a few hours and they’ve already been cheeky to us.

We had Bun Cha for lunch, which was delicious, but the waitress coolly charged us probably twice what it ought to have cost. Four things we did wrong: (1) we looked like tourists, (2) we didn’t ask how much the food cost before sitting down, (3) we didn’t spot what locals were being charged, (4) and we didn’t notice that we had actually sat down at a restaurant with a near-identical name to the actually recommended Bun Cha restaurant two doors down on the other side of the road.

Bun cha

Bun cha

It’s easy to laugh about because, even charged double, lunch for 2 with a drink was £6.50, so the only thing we’ve lost is a bit of self-respect at being tricked. I plead “first time in Hanoi” as extenuating circumstances, because this city is nuts. In fact, I’ve never been anywhere like this in my life – and I’ve been to Istanbul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Rio and Rome by way of comparison with other nuts cities. An hour’s walk is exhausting in two ways: (1) you end up tired from dodging traffic and the constant din of bike and car horns, and (2) you end up with lungs and eyeballs full of exhaust, from the traffic.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere where every square inch of space is utilised so keenly. There is no space too small for a business. A doorway is sufficient for a tiny convenience stall. A gap between two buildings for a small food stall. Shops can be buried in the middle of a block of buildings as long as they can manage a door onto the street with a sign. Businesses spill onto the narrow pavement, and bikes park on the rest of it, which is why you usually have to walk out in the street and why every step is made with an eye to bikes coming from ahead of you or behind you. Or sometimes both.

One road was absolutely heaving with bikes and cars. We congratulated ourselves prematurely when we finally made it to the pavement on the other side… only to be almost mown down by a stream of bikes that had decided the pavement was wide enough and less congested than the road! Completely nuts.

How to cross the road in Hanoi…

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