MONDAY 30 JUNE 2014
NORTH TO HANOI
It was just an overnight stay at Phan Lan Hotel in Ho Chi Min City. It was a friendly hotel down a little lane of similar small establishments. All narrow and similar height providing 20 or so rooms.
I got up around 5:30 am to start typing but also decided to make a cup of tea in my travel cup using a new very fast in cup element. Got into typing and forgot I had the water heating. Suddenly I looked up and into the bathroom where my cup was in flames. I was using a electric socket in the bathroom and the cup was on the basin. Action! Unplug and grab the handle and get under the tap and run water to deal with the flames. Result – no damage, but a useless cup with a hole in it and a heating element in melted pieces. Pity about my much traveled cup though.
Breakfast at 8:30 am was a thin omelet, baguette, banana, half cup of orange juice and half cup coffee. A fairly standard breakfast in S.E. Asian hotels of the level I stay in.
We had booked a couple of taxis to take us to the airport and right on time they were at the roadside ready for us. Modern Hondas. We moved at speed through a variety of side streets, back streets and main roads. The driver insensately sounding the horn to warn vehicles he was passing or to encourage them to move aside – which they never did. But we made good time and arrived at the Domestic terminal where the largest crowds were in the budget airline area – Jetstar Pacific and Vietjet and another I think.
We walked across to the International terminal looking for a SIM card for Phil's phone which we got. He was then able to clear his emails and found one from Jetstar telling us our plane would depart one hour late. By this stage though I had found that my SIM which I bought last night was no longer picking up the Internet although calls still worked but not texting. Strange. Another issue were the steady stream of adverts texted in in Vietnamese. Every time I tried to do something on the phone an advert would interrupt. Rubbish said a local.
Check in took time and Becky had to sign a wavier form taking responsibility for me because of my mental and physical state. Why? Who knows. Age perhaps? What ever the reason, we all had a good laugh about it and I have the form as a souvenir. My bag was 15kgs.
Loading was by the get on a bus and be taken to the plane system – packed standing in bus, mad rush to the stairs to get up to the plane. Loaded from both ends so confusion for some trying to get on at the wrong end. Much to my surprise there was enough overhead locker space.
Flight was around two hours with the time filled in by staff sellin g meals, snacks and toys. I still have a difficulty with the apparently high prices. In reality my coffee (local 3 in 1) and a cookie at 25,000 Dong is really a little over $US1.00 and last nights Indian curry at 163,000Dong was under $US10, more like $US8.
Landing at Hanoi was a bit bumpy coming down through the clouds. By the time we had been bused into the terminal our luggage was on the conveyor waiting for us. Well some was and the remainder followed. Fastest delivery I ever have come across.
A man with a sign reading Rebekah Sussex was at the exit and in no time we were in the pre booked hotel van, rather than a couple ot more expensive taxis, heading for the city. We travelled along a modern four lane highway passing m]alternatively rice paddy fields housing and large factories and industrial complexes. One very large Panasonic collection of buildings which I assumed was a manufacturing plant. We passed over a very wide river which was most likely the Red River.
After that we came into the city proper passing rather fascinating houses of a real mixture of styles and designs. They all tended to be very narrow, one room wide and several stories high. Quite cute and some looked as if they came right our of some children's story book.
Once we left the highway and merged into normal crowded streets we had arrived at the Old Quarter, where our hotel, the Holiday Hotel, was located along with many others. Same narrow building with several floors and no elevator. I respect of my age it seems I have been relocated from the fifth floor to the second and into what the call the VIP room. Main feature is it is a bit larger and has a sofa and coffee table along with a double bed. Very friendly and helpful staff. Free wi fi and surprisingly my phone has started to pick up Internet even without the free wi fi. Perhaps my card has solved its issues? Time will tell. Still no Face Book though. I really do think it is blocked here.
We wandered up the road a few minutes to a little restaurant called Gekko for a meal. We thought it was cute and were later surprised to find an identical one around the corner. Perhaps it is a chain? Children had pizza,although Molly chose Pumpkin soup, adults were more adventurous with my having prawn and vegetable in coconut cream and supposedly cooked in a clay pot although it was not served in it. Then a slow walk around the block and back to the hotel for an early night.
Our hotel is down this street. Some of the narrow houses, but not the prettiest.