Taken for a Ride by a Taxi Driver in Hanoi

Our holiday in Vietnam instantly picked up speed

We were ecstatic but mildly disoriented when we got off the train in Hanoi at the end of our epic 35 hour journey.  Our holiday in Vietnam instantly picked up speed.

Holiday in Vietnam: View from the balcony at the Posh Hotel
View from the balcony at the Posh Hotel

Taxi driver on yaba

A taxi driver asked which hotel we wanted, took our bags and rushed off.

Convinced he was speeding off his face on yaba (amphetamines), we raced to catch up with him, tried to take our luggage back and asked what the fare would be.

He was only stationery because of the tug of war going on with the baggage.

We finally managed to haggle him down to just under half the exorbitant fee he quoted and raced after him to his taxi which took off at breakneck speed before we had even closed the doors.

We were unceremoniously dropped off in Hang Giay street, the address I had for the Posh Hotel. Unfortunately it was the wrong Hang Giay St. I had written the address down without thinking about including the diacritics (accents).

Lost in Hanoi

The night market in the old quarter was going nuts. We traipsed through the crowded foot traffic and and asked for directions and traipsed and asked and ran over people’s feet with our luggage. Until we finally found our hotel about an hour later.  Yay!

What no balcony? A recurring theme on our holiday in Vietnam

We’d paid extra for a room with a balcony. Yes it was a comfortable stylish room. But no an opening window isn’t a balcony.

This was a recurring theme throughout our holiday in Vietnam. The “balcony” at one place in Saigon was actually a fire escape. Fortunately we were moved to a room with a balcony with great views the next day. Posh.

Hanoi is very different to Ho Chi Minh City Saigon. The food is just as fabulous, maybe better. People wear funky, trendy clothes suitable for a snowstorm. It is colder by far, with a palpable police presence and aggressive scammers everywhere.

Hanoi Highlights

Wandering the streets of the Old Quarter. When the streets were closed off to foot traffic in the evenings the Mini Me rickshaws come out with little kids taking their parents, little siblings and friends for a ride. Hilarious.

Than Long Water Puppet Theatre accompanied by a traditional orchestra. I was totally enchanted by the sound of the dan bau or monochord. Ethereal.

The Temple of Literature. This “historical and cultural vestige” dedicated to sages and Confucian scholars was built in 1070. Utterly sublime.

Holiday in Vietnam: Contemplating Confucius
Contemplating Confucius

Halong Bay

We interspersed our stay with a few days in Halong Bay, as you do.

We hadn’t hired a scooter in HCMC or Hanoi because we were too busy getting lost slowly on foot. However we decided we could manage the navigation here.

It was great fun exploring this stunning area but freezing cold.

Meanwhile back in Hanoi

We returned to Hanoi for a few days before we were due to head back to our yacht in Senibong Cove Marina in Johor Bahru.

We’d booked a room with a balcony at the Mai Hotel this time. Of course we weren’t in the least surprised to discover no balcony.

But when we mentioned this and they upgraded us to the palatial Silver Room suite we could hardly believe our eyes. It included a fabulous sauna, a bath the size of a small swimming pool and the most amazing fake retro kitsch decor. It was too cold to enjoy a balcony anyway.

Holiday in Vietnam: Stylish golden tiled bath. Shame the hot water system couldn't supply a hot bath.
Stylish golden tiled bath. Shame the hot water system couldn’t supply a hot bath.

Holiday in Vietnam: King size bed fit for a queen.
King size bed fit for a queen.

Holiday in Vietnam: Who needs a balcony with furnishings like this?
Who needs a balcony with furnishings like this?

Have you been to Hanoi or Halong Bay? Been scammed in Vietnam? I would love your comments.



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I'm a sailing traveller floating around South East Asia on my boat Yana de Lys. I spend as much time as I can exploring the back streets and pretending to act like a local. Everything I talk about is simply based on my own experiences. (But hey - I'm open to sponsorship offers from five star hotels and stuff. Bring it on!) Get in touch with me on: +61 411 220 592 and +61 8 6255 5074 penny@sailingtravelblog.com

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