03.08.2009 - 04.08.2009 34 °C
We took a sleeper bus to Hanoi. There weren't any robberies like the last sleeper bus. It was fairly smooth. We got dropped of in the edge of Hanoi at 3:30 am. It seemed to be a different Hanoi than I knew but probably because I never went out at 3:30am in 1999. We took a taxi (which didn't exists back in 1999) to Hoan Kiem lake and sat there until dawn next to a KFC (also a new addition). As the sun rose many Vietnamese young and old started walking around the lake for exercise. We then went in search of a hotel to get some sleep and a shower. The hotel near us suggested by our guidebooks was full until 3pm so we followed a guy to Hanoi Opera Hotel II. They offered us $10 for a room and the room was good with a/c, 2 double beds and a decent bathroom. After a long nap we headed out into the hot and humid streets of Hanoi. We took a taxi (the company was: touristaxi) to DHL to pick up my card. The taxi driver then charged us twice the meter rate (initially it was 3 times but we protested) [FYI: trusted taxis: MAiLinh, Taxi CP and Hanoi Taxis]. We then walked to Hoa Le prison, often referred to as the Hanoi Hilton, where John McCain was a POW in the Vietnamese/American War. We spent a while in there, I was happy as my expired UCAS card managed to get me a student discount. We then needed a cold drink and some water. We headed to my old home Hanoi Towers where we had a cold and icy drink at the bar and went to the supermarket for some water.
We then wandered around the lake and headed to Hanoi Backpackers Hostel to book a trip to Halong Bay. We also decided to book a hotel near there for the next day and for after the trip as it was in a better area. We then got back to our hotel to be told our room was needed and we have been moved to a smaller room and they have moved all our stuff. They had done a bad job of moving the stuff by mixing Rob and my belongings and shampoo had not been moved carefully so it leaked. We asked if they would charge less. they said no. So we left.
We headed to the hotel we booked, Hanoi Lucky Hotel III. Unfortunately they were full but they took us to Hanoi Lucky II their partner located 50m away. It was more luxurious and more expensive but we stayed there. We had a lush sleep apart from a power cut which killed the a/c for a few hours.
The next day we headed out early-ish to the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum. We literally were the last people in before it closed. We then headed to the temple of Literature and a nearby bookshop. We then got a cyclo to the ho hi min museum. He said we didn't have to pay as long as if we came out within the next hour and he was still there we had to use him to get back into town. The museum was really well laid out and designed. We then went out another exit and went back to the hotel.
We then got ready for Halong Bay.