Sunday, September 20, 2009

18th to 20th September - Hanoi and Sa Pa

So, after an interesting and slightly bumpy ride on Laos Airlines, we arrived in Hanoi.... The taxi driver wanted to drop us off at all of his families hotels (of course) but we had a destination. We got to the old town and ended up staying at the Hanoi Palace Hotel which was plush compared to our previous residences.

Tal and I went for a walk and were wowed by just how many motorbikes there are in Hanoi. Also, the place is so crowded and people just down seem to like tourists. It's very odd.

We walked around the lake and ended up at a posh restaurant. The food was good but we were glad to get back to the relative sanity of the hotel. We were tired and needed sleep.

From Hanoi and Sa Pa

The next day we booked our tour to Sa Pa playing almost every tour operator off against each other before getting at least $20 off the initial price. Nice....

Tal and I headed out to explore Hanoi old town during the day. It seemed a little quieter but still had the plethora of killer motorbike drivers wanted to harm us as we shuffled across treacherous roads. Tal was in search of a new camera and we got one sorted out after an 8 stage process of decision making. It was an experience but a fun one.

That night we boarded the overnight sleeper train to Sa Pa. I didn't get much sleep because of snory mcsnorer on the bunk above Tal (what is it about sleeper trains and snoring....) We arrived in Sa Pa today tired and in need of refreshing...

From Hanoi and Sa Pa

The guy who picked us up at Lao Cai train station kept us waiting for about 40 mins and we quickly realised why.... He was doubling up our pick up with an effort to line his own pockets by driving locals on our tour bus to Sa Pa...

We met Hung our tour guide at our hotel (yes that's his name although I didn't ask him if his first name was Well or sirname was Ry). He took us to his office to meet his boss who kept us (paying customers) waiting for about 30 mins. We then asked to change our plans to stay in the hotel for two nights as opposed to doing a home stay. This seemed to be met with derision. The boss said he'd see what he could do while Hung proceeded to tell us he had not been paid for a while and had no money. Not a good start to the trip. We went for our first trek after the boss promised he would call Hanoi to arrange our change of plans. Sa Pa is beautiful. So picturesque and the trek was great.

The boss messed up again leaving us waiting for 30 mins for our transport to pick us up from the end of our trek. Not good considering we were tired, hungry and getting increasingly annoyed. We eventually got to lunch which was a magnificent banquet of Vietnamese food. Then we found out the boss had not managed to get in touch with Hanoi... 4 hours after we initially requested it, a phone call seemed to big a stretch for him. So we got back to our hotel and promptly complained. We now have our plans changed and a formal complaint put in to the head office in Hanoi... Not a good start to our tour.

Tonight we have dinner and take a walk around the town. It should be fun.

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