I arrived back in Hanoi while it was still light, something I was keen to do as the bus stations are often pretty intimidating in the light and I didn’t fancy passing through on my own and in the dark! I arrived into the bus station and was pleased to see a taxi very near the bus so I ignored the husslers and headed straight for the taxi. The driver didn’t speak any English and it quickly became clear that he didn’t know where to find Bat Su, the street where I was headed. He asked a friend before we left the bus station and all seemed okay. Everything was okay and after over half an hour of squeezing through Hanoi’s rush hour trafffic we made it to Hoan Kiem lake only ten minutes walk from my destination. This is where it went horribly wrong in but proved to me that it’not just the tourists who get horribly lost. Headinmg toward Bat Su he took a wrong turn and completely overshot the guesthouse we were now on the north side of the guesthouse on streets I didn’t recognise. Further more many of the narrow streets were so rammed with people bikes and motorbikes that every agonising wrong turn took an age. The driver eventually admitted defeat and stopped to ask direction, repeatedly. We slowly homed in on my destination and eventually made it. The taxi was the cheapest metered one I’d seen so rather than getting away with a very cheap ride I ended up paying about what I’d expected to. I headed into the Hanoi guesthouse pleased to see that Thin, the fantastic day receptionist/hotel manager was still there as I had only booked this night at the last minute and, being full, I was being put in their sister hotel 100m down the street.
The sister hotel is actually nicer than the Hanoi Guesthouse in terms of the room interiors but it didn’t feel quite as clean and my small room didn’t really have a proper window. The Hanoi guesthouse is still far preferable thanks to the extremely well cleaned rooms and the excellent staff who really seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty to look after you and don’t try to push tours or other services.
I went out for a cheap and tasty dinner at the mock meat restaurant followed by drinks at Cafe Sago looking out over the lake. I finished the night with one expensive drink slowly sipped in Minh’s Jazz club where some pretty reasonable live jazz was playing. The Rugby world cup match with England vs South Africa was playing at 2.00am and, having nothing planned for the next day I stayed up to watch it. I shouldn’t have bothered as England were destroyed by South Africa though I thought the score of 0 to England was a little harsh and while they did deserve to lose I thought they deserved at least a few points.
On the second day I got up surprisingly early bearing in mind the late night, sorted out my bag as I now had not a single piece of clean clothing and took my laundry to the Hanoi guesthouse. I checked out of my temporary hotel and into the Hanoi Guesthouse where I was given the best room in the hotel, a double on the top floor with a huge private balcony complete with a stone table and stools. For dinner I went to Baan Thai, a thai place for expats thais that we had been meaning to check out. The food was excellent and reminded me what I missed about Thai food the fresh vegetables with plenty of heat and a taste I haven’t had in any Vietnamese food. I finished the night with a home brewed belgian beer in the Red Beer microbrewery bar and then went to our favourite spot for a couple of disgustingly cheap bia hoi.
Anyway I had better go I’m writing this from the airport as I wait for Alex’s flight which is landing about now. I got the local bus here which was both very cheap and almost impossible to track down so I left plenty of time and got here an hour early. I’m very excited about seeing Alex even though its only been three weeks I have missed her a lot. Okay really better go now.