Day 13: Well, I'll start with the arduous journey from Guilin to Hanoi. We booked a sleeper bus that was suppoesed to turn up at 12 midnight. As expected in chinese time this meant 2.30 am. We were actually quite optomistic about this journey despite previous experiences, unduly optomistic that is. We were ushered onto the bus, and alotted random bed. They were about 4 foot long and there was absolutely no room for manouvering. It was feasible though, until that is the bus became slightly overloaded with passangers. By this time we were tired and much to our dissapointment, the tiny passage way next to our bottom bunk beds was occupied with one chain smoker, a guy that smelt like he'd been swiming in petrol (a happy combination) and a strange man that just stared at you everytime you rolled over, there wasnt much sleeping thats for sure. We made it to the border and were ushered into a border crossing mini bus. It was then that we found out we'd been ripped off. We'd paid for a ticket to Hanoi and found ourselves paying extra for the rest of the journey. But we were out of china, and Hanoi, whilst busy, had the charm we were looking for. We booked into a new hostel and went off to explore. We were staying in the old quarter and managed to bump into a couple of american guys that tried to persuade us to visit 'le mat', a snake willage, to eat snake and drink the blood etc. We declined. We slept well that night.
Day 14: We got up early for our next expedition. A boat trip to Halong bay. First we had a 3 hour journey to the docks. We brought the cheapest version of the trip, but weren't dissapointed. On the boat we me two couples one from swizerland and the other from the US. Both lovely and had a fab first day. Went to see another cave, they dressed it up like disneyland. Halong bay itself was amazing. A host of small mountainous islands. You could see them for miles and they almost looked like dusky shadows of one another. In the afternoon we went kyaking around small floating villages, very picturesque. My rowing skills weren't really up to scratch, but tom did most of the work. Later the boat stopped in the middle of the islands and we swam about, jumped off the top deck of the boat and dan almost lost her womanhood in the process. We were lucky, it didnt rain and was the most amazing setting for dinner later on.
Day 15: The next day was the trip back to halong city for lunch, we didn't even mind the torrential rain that day, after fun on the boat. Later back in Hanoi we have just been for dinner in a tiny cafe on a side street. The most amazing dinner. A Vietnamese lady served us up with a stewing pot for 4. We had a huge plate of vegtables, tofu, fresh fish, squid and huge prawns. Cooked it in front of us, it tasted goood!!! best food so far I think and in good company, hanging out with the swiss couple Daniele and Alice.
Day 16: Today we've been wondering about in Hanoi. We are really falling in love with the place. There's something lovable about the simplicity of life here. Every street specialises in a certain product, a shoe street, a button street, a mechanic street, they've got it all. The eating culture is very different. There are restaurants (as we know them), but they are set up completely for tourists. The price is 4 time that of street food. When I say street food, that is exactly what I mean. You sit on the pavement on your allocated plastic foot stall and hope for the best. You get severed up an array of dishes. Tonight we had sichuan tofu and marintaed omlette, garlic vegtables, fried rice to name a few. We ate and drank for about 2 pound fifty each and had a fantastic feast. The thing I love most is the fruit here. Ladies wondering around with huge baskets full of pineapple and lychees. They are so much sweeter than any fruit from england. For me there is only one pitfall, not enough gin!!!