36 days away
870 km / 541 miles since last post
23,402 km / 14,541 miles total
As it has become customary for checking out days of hotels, I had eaten, showered and packed all in plenty of time and then had the stress of watching Stu do it all in under an hour! Being continually told that "we have loads of time" too doesn't help me relax either. (Stu note: we had plenty of time).
Stu soon got his bits together and we eventually left the hotel (20 minutes later than I would have liked). We walked to the nearest tube station and planned to get our tickets for the airport train here, as it would just involve a couple of changes to get there. It seemed however, that we couldn't buy tickets for the airport here, and the guy behind the ticket counter told us to change at the central station. We wished we hadn't listened to him because our airport tickets from central cost HK$200 altogether. As we found out later, if we had gone the route we'd originally intended and joined the airport line later it would have cost us less than half of that! Oh well...
Once at the airport we joined the short queue at the check in desk for Vietnam Airlines - which decided to grind to a halt the moment we joined it! We seemed to be waiting quite a while until things started moving again and we eventually got checked in.
By the time we had got some money for Vietnam at the Travelex desk we realised we had ten minutes to get to our boarding gate. The trouble was we still had to go through security and customs, which both had big queues.
Despite me stressing out about this, we made it to the gate before they had started boarding, and we also saw Tegan and Tyson waiting there already. Finally I could relax - I hate airport days! (Stu note: as I said, plenty of time).
The flight to Hanoi, Vietnam was fine and was very short - just 1 hour 40 minutes, and in no time at all we were touching down at the airport.
We only had a confirmation letter for our Vietnam visa so had to get this sorted at the airport on arrival. It was all very straight forward though, and before we knew it we were saying goodbye to Tegan and Tyson, as they were heading off to their hostel and their own adventures in Vietnam, and we got into a taxi to take us to our hotel.
The taxi journey was a lot longer and crazier than we'd expected. It took around ninety minutes to get to our hotel (but only cost about £10) and along the way we witnessed the madness that is the traffic in Hanoi. There are literally thousands of mopeds on the roads, fighting their way through the cars, bikes, people and other mopeds. It seems like there are no rules to the roads at all, but I assume they know what they are doing. It makes me laugh when you see an entire family all on one moped - mum, dad and a couple of kids!
The hotel is not too bad, quite basic but fairly clean. The bathroom has seen better days though, and it doesn't help that there isn't any ventilation in it at all. It has a small window which appears to be sealed with a crisp packet and a tissue (nice touch), but even if you could open it the place would just attract in the mosquitoes! However, now that we have experienced the filth in China, we can handle anything!
The woman on reception was really helpful, gave us a map of the local area, recommended a couple of places to eat nearby and changed up some money for us.
We unpacked a few bits and then headed out for a bite to eat at one of the receptionists recommendations, Koto restaurant (also featured in the Lonely Planet guide). Apparently the restaurant is run as a charity. It was started up around ten years ago along the same lines as 'Fifteen', the Jamie Oliver restaurant (I'm not sure which came first) whereby kids are taken away from life on the streets and given the opportunity of training and work. It seems like it's been very successful too as the place seemed quite upmarket and very busy.
When we got there the place was buzzing - probably a good sign. It seemed to have a lot of Westerners in there, so this was obviously the place to be. We found some space upstairs and ordered our food. We both had pork spring rolls to start, Stu then had a stir fried mushroom dish and I had a chicken and chickpea curry - both really good and very good value. I think the whole meal plus a few beers came to just under £20.
We were both feeling quite tired after dinner and headed back to the hotel to get some rest. We've already spotted quite a few mosquitoes, so will definitely be making use of the DEET here.
A bit of good news that we have just found out tonight: my brother Mark and his wife Lorraine have just added a new addition to their family! Our new little niece Isabel Rose Peters was born today at 1:34pm weighing 8lb 11oz! Very happy news and we cannot wait to see some pictures!