39 days away
5 km / 3 miles since last post
23,417 km / 14,551 miles total
Yet another lazy day for us. We stayed in the hotel until lunchtime, got some food out, then it was straight back to the hotel to sleep it off. It's a tough life!
We had our first meeting with our tour guide and our tour group this afternoon in the hotel restaurant - the first time for us to meet the people we would be spending the next two weeks with.
Our tour guide and leader is Thanh (pronounced 'Tan'), and we have a broad mix of people in our group who all seem very nice. We have two fellow Brits: Natalie and Isabel; five Australians: Monique and Mia (who are sisters), Francesca and Scott who came together, and Michelle; two New Zealanders: Pat and Andy (mother and son); and one South African called Lou-Anne.
Thanh started off by getting us to fill in a few forms and telling us a bit of information about Vietnam and what our tour would include. He seems to be very informative and helpful, and we get a sense that he likes to be on time (I hope Stu takes note of that!)
He told us that in a couple of days we would be going to Halong Bay and spending a night on a boat there, which we are really looking forward to. Unfortunately we are only allowed to take our day packs, and so we have to fit everything we need in these. My daypack is already full all the time as I carry the netbook, iPad, hardrives and other little bits. Stu carries his camera round with him all the time, so we basically have to fit everything in his little rucksack. Thankfully it is just one night so I'm sure we'll manage somehow.
After getting a bit of an overview from Thanh, we all agreed that a meal out somewhere sounded like a good idea. We had had quite a big lunch, but I think a lot of the people in our group had only arrived in Vietnam today and hadn't eaten much, so were starving.
Thanh booked a couple of large taxis to take us all to a restaurant not too far away. It was a really nice place. We had a room to ourselves seated around a large table. I ordered Duck Hanoi Style (basically five spice duck, although I couldn't taste much five spice). It was nice though and very filling. I think everyone enjoyed their meal.
I got chatting to Isabel who had done a similar tour in China to us, but she did it a couple of months ago. She didn't like China at all, and unfortunately she also got really ill with food poisoning and had to spend a day in hospital in Xi'an - how awful! Her trip lasted a month and she said that it was too long to spend in China. I'm glad we were there for just three weeks, I think this was just enough time.
After food, Thanh asked if we wanted to get a taxi back to the hotel or walk. As walking would only take twenty minutes we thought it might be a good idea to do this, as we can walk off our food and get to experience walking through the streets at night time.
Just as in the daytime, the streets are bustling and noisy. However, whilst there are loads of people around, lots of traffic and you do have to be careful crossing the roads, it never feels at all threatening or too dangerous. It was quite enjoyable to walk back throughout the streets, and it was a good opportunity to chat to people in our group and get to know them a bit better.
We soon made our way back to the hotel, and wished everyone a good night.
Tomorrow we will be going on a walking tour in Hanoi to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex.