26 October – Hoi An – Hanoi
Just for a change, we’re up about 7.00am. But this time we sort of need to be.
Do a bit of packing and tidying up, and then head downstairs for the usual breakfast of fruit and caphe sua da.
That done, we finish off the packing and then head back down to check out, as well as say goodbye to Phuc.
I’ve said it before, but he really is a lovely guy, and we would happily return to the Ruby hotel if we ever visit Hoi An again.
Our car to the airport, which Phuc has arranged for us, arrives, and we’re on our way by 9.30am.
Back up into Danang, past all those lovely resorts….., and it seems the police and the APEC organisers are doing a bit of a practice run.
Those black Audi’s are out, and so too are the police on their motorbikes.
Waving batons and arms about, and screaming at other road users, as they raced through intersections. They were just a little bit worked up, and it was actually quite funny to see.
We get to the airport about 10.00am, and go to check in, even though Lisa had checked us in on-line yesterday.
I’m not sure I really understand the on-line check in thing, when you have to go and drop your bag anyway when you get there. Maybe smarter minds than mine, get it….
Anyway, bag dropped; actually remembered to ask for a window seat this time; and we head off to do the security and waiting thing.
But before that, a quick toilet break.
Which, incidentally, I got to share with the female toilet cleaners, who came in to do their thing, while I was doing my thing.
Oh well, it didn’t bother me, and it certainly didn’t seem to bother them.
Farewelled the cleaners, and went out to find Lisa, who I assumed, perhaps incorrectly as it turned out, had also made use of the toilets.
Waiting nearby, I continued to do exactly that for several minutes.
Finally, I see someone sitting over near the doors to the airport, waving to me, who looks suspiciously like Lisa.
Okay, my earlier assumption was obviously incorrect, but I’m not sure how I was supposed to know that she would be sitting where she was. Especially seeing as the said chairs were quite some way from where the toilets were.
Anyway, it was all my fault apparently, (perhaps she had forgotten that she now had a new watch battery….) that I had been standing there waiting for her….
The error of my ways duly pointed out to me, we headed off to security, which was less painful than being married at that particular point in time.
We do some more waiting; this time together; and finally it’s time to start boarding. Well, not the plane, but the bus that will take us to the plane.
Eventually on the plane, and once I’ve kicked the local out of my seat who managed to get his 21A and 21G’s mixed up, I make myself comfortable in my window seat.
I actually have two windows, but the way they’re located in regards to my seat, I don’t actually have a window at all. One is too far forward of me, and the other is behind me. Both options will result in a strained neck, but fortuitously, the only thing I can see when I look out of either, is the wing.
So, like patting a cat, there’s not much point, and my neck is saved.
We eventually get pushed back and begin taxiing out to the start of the runway. Which, judging by how long it took us, and obviously not being able to see it, is somewhere near Hoi An. Yep, it took a while.
But not quite as long as the sitting at the end of the runway then took.
Seriously, I started to question if we’d actually have enough fuel left to get us to Hanoi, after that wait.
We’d left the terminal at 11.40am, and it wasn’t until 12.00pm till we took off.
The screaming kid nearby wasn’t helping my frustration.
On a positive though, Lisa gets talking to the French guy next to her, which means I’m off the hook for a while…
About an hour after we took off, we land in Hanoi. A very, very hazy Hanoi. Ended up with a sore neck to find that out, though….
And as we taxi towards the towards the terminal, a girl nearby starts to dry retch into her sick bag.
What the….??? We’re on the ground, now. Would have thought the ‘scary’ bit was finished….
Off the plane and off to wait for our bag. And wait….
Bag finally retrieved, and we head out to find our driver who is waiting patiently with his ‘Scott and Lisa’ sign.
I really want to catch the bus, though. The only reason that we have a private car is because our hotel (the Artisan Boutique) had offered a complimentary transfer.
Who would have thought, three years ago it was all about doing the ‘safe’ thing with pre-arranged pick ups, and now I want to catch the bus.
Come a long way, hey?
Back out onto the main road into Hanoi, and while I was only here two weeks ago, it’s good to be back.
Over the huge bridge that Toan and I got saturated on, which still makes me smile when I think about it, and we’re soon back into the narrow streets of the Old Quarter.
Gee I love this place.
We eventually pull up at the Artisan, and it’s kind of like coming home again.
Familiar surroundings, familiar faces. Yep, I love it.
Do the checking in thing and head up to our room to get sorted. It’s now 2.30pm.
Left the Ruby hotel at 9.30am, arrived at the Artisan just before 2.30pm. Five hours travel time, and it was only a one hour flight.
And that doesn’t include the packing up and checking out time involved, as well as the now unpacking.
So, while flying is quick, it ain’t that quick. And really, every time you do it in Vietnam, you lose the best part of a day.
Finally sorted, we head out into the crazy, but brilliant, streets.
First stop, something for lunch, with banh mi being the preferred option.
Up past the big round about and turn left near Highlands coffee. Good news, the banh mi place from 18 months ago is still there.
One beef and one pork; 75 000 Dong. Hmmm, the beef one was 50 000 Dong of that, which I didn’t realise until after they’d started making them, when I saw it listed on the wall.
Oh well, live and learn.
And we did, because they weren’t that good. Not sure if we’d just been spoilt in Hoi An, or they’ve slipped a little since we were last here…
Mental note taken, we shall look elsewhere next time.
Head off for a bit of a walk around the lake, and eventually find our café from last time, which is just around the corner from the hotel.
Seeing as it’s been far too long, and I mean faaaarrrr too long, two caphe sua da’s are ordered.
And seeing as we haven’t spent enough time sitting today, we do some more of that.
But now with the savouring and watching thing. Did I mention that it was good to be back?
That done, we go for a bit of a walk, including showing Lisa where I stayed two weeks ago. It reminds me of what a great little lane it is, and next time, we really need to come back and explore the area a bit more.
Eventually my watch tells me it’s time, so I drop Lisa off at the hotel and head up towards Beer Corner.
Through Underwear lane, and then left onto Dinh Liet, which becomes Ta Hien. I reckon I could almost do this with my eyes closed.
Into the main area, I walk around the block in the hope that I might find a bia hoi place that serves in glass. Or perhaps just a different place that appeals.
Deep down, actually, probably not that deep down, I sort of knew I was likely wasting my time. And I was, so I headed back to my usual place with the yellow plastic stools.
There’s already a couple of others there, and one of the young guys makes me sit with another couple of tourists so I don’t take up a whole table by myself.
No problem with that, and I end up on a table with an English guy and an American guy.
The English guy seems really nice, and judging by some of his stories, he appears to spend a fair bit of his time travelling.
Several 5000 Dong beers, some chatting, a few laughs, and lots of people watching.
Did I mention it was good to be back?
Eventually the ‘urge’, for want of a better word, to keep marital peace becomes too much, and I head back to collect Lisa.
Yep, time to do our balcony thing next door.
Up the stairs, and as there always is, there’s room outside.
Beer ordered, seat taken, and I’m back.
If it’s not my favourite thing to do in Hanoi, then it’s most certainly up there.
‘Tis a truly great way to finish off an afternoon.
Did I mention it was good to be back…????
We meet an Aussie guy, Errol, who is working in Ho Chi Minh City, and is in Hanoi catching up with some Aussie friends on holiday.
He’s a really great guy and we have a good chat, which is nice, because it can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to other tourists. A lot just won’t give you the time of day. But perhaps not surprisingly, probably because we are, we find Aussies tend to be a little more giving.
Starting to get a little late, we bid farewell and head upstairs. Throwing caution to the wind, and not really being as considerate to my fellow dining people, who I haven’t yet met, I pass on the shower as it’s now after 7.00pm.
I’ll do that later, but in the meantime, I’ll get the deodorant to work far harder than it ever has….
Decision is made to visit the Bun Cha place that Rachael and I went to earlier in the month, which I’m struggling to now believe was over three weeks ago.
Geez, where has the time gone…..???
Anyway, the food, as it was previously, is good; I still don’t really get Bun Cha, but anyway….; and as is not unusual, there’s far too much of it.
Maybe we just talked too much; don’t worry, not to each other, been away together for two weeks now and have pretty much run out of things to talk about….; after meeting a French couple who are currently living in Kuala Lumpur.
Which was good, as they gave us a few tips for the 24 hours we are spending there on the way home from Vietnam.
Anyway, food and chatting done; and now time to come up with conversation topics that don’t involve the weather…; we head off in the direction of beer corner.
This also gives me time to think about the dinner bill, 215 000 Dong, which included a beer and a Coke.
Certainly not over the top, but up there compared to what it needs to be in Vietnam. Being rather popular with tourists and food tour groups, probably explains it.
Back up at beer corner, and once again I have the urge to do a bit of a walk around the block. Still looking for something different, but not really sure what I’m looking for.
I only know what I don’t want, but unfortunately, it seems everyone wants exactly that.
We get back up to the top of Ma May street, and end up at the same beer hoi place I went to with Rachael a few weeks ago.
Only had a couple of beers there; beer corner doesn’t grab Lisa like it does me….; and we head back to the hotel.
I suspect my deodorant was probably starting to give up, anyway.
Dropped into a mini-mart for beer, soft drink and water supplies on the way, and then reacquainted myself with soap and water back at the hotel.
Deodorant, as well as Lisa, now much happier.
A beer or two on the bed, along with some note taking, and then we crash. I’m knackered.
I still don’t fully understand why moving destinations, when you’re actually spending most of your time sitting down, is so tiring. Just doesn’t make sense to me.
In the end, a relatively early night is probably a good idea, as we have a bit of walking to do tomorrow.
The plan is to tick a box that, even though we tried, wasn’t able to be ticked in 2016.
So hopefully, all going well, that will happen.
Oh, and note to self; take more photos tomorrow!