|The train pulled into Giam Lam station at 5.20am, woken abruptly and off the train in fairly quick time. Giam Lam is a small station on the outskirts of Hanoi and at that time it is dark and deserted apart from taxi drivers hassling for custom. The problem is you have very little choice but to go with them. Was offered a ride to the hotel which was about 5 miles away for $50, I offered $5 agreed on $15, yes I had been scammed in Vietnam, something this country is famous for. The taxi driver took us to the wrong area of the town and asked about 30 people if they knew the address, none of them did, he eventualy rang the hotel and realised his mistake, maybe I should have shown him the map I had of the hotels location, but wheres the fun in that. He eventually got us to the hotel about 30 minutes later than he should. He then wanted more money, he didn't get any, I'd been scammed in Vietnam and still came away smiling. The Hotel was down a back alley and the receptionist was asleep on a sunbed in the lobby. Room was basic but ok, with air con and a shower. The shower was above a bath and the water ran straight out of the bath onto the floor of the bathroom and down a drain, you swilled it down with a hose too. So as soon as we arrived and were shown to our room and went straight to bed to catch up on some of our sleep. Awoke at just after 10 and got a much needed shower and shave, the first since we left Hong Kong on Sunday.
We wandered around Hoan Kiem Lake after taking our lives in our hands crossing the road. The lake is the centrepiece of Hanoi and is steeped in legend, in which a turtle emerged from the lake and gave the Emperor a sword with which to defeat the advancing Chinese army and after the victory he returned the sword to the turtle in the lake. The lake is surrounded on all sides by major roads, so the peace of the lake is accompanied to the background music of bike and car horns, that are a constant here in Hanoi.
I was unable to get any money out of the ATM, I assume because they didnt acccept the card I tried rather than Natwest being a pain again, so changed dollars to dong at the hotel and I am now wearing my moneybelt (so dont worry Jessica).
We got a cyclo to the War Museum, the ride was scary but fun, as you are sat in a box at the front of a bike, very low down and close to other traffic. This is particularly worrying when you are going the wrong way down a one way street. The War Museum is interesting and amongst other things tells how the heroic Vietnamese defeated the capitalist invasion force. The musuem is full of artifacts and has descriptions in English which is useful. Outside there are captured US planes and a helicopter, plus a large sculpture made out of pieces of shot down American and French planes, with a picture in the middle of a young girl Viet Cong soldier dragging the wing of a shot down US plane acroos a beach. It wasn't at all a bad place to spend a couple of hours on a hot afternoon, all for an entry fee of 66p.
From there the cyclo driver took us to a temple with a lovely garden and statues. We chilled there for a while before heading back to the hotel for a much needed shower.
We went out in the evening to the New Day Restaurant, which had was very busy and had a great food. We had soup to start, followed by 2 spring rolls each with a tastey dipping sauce. Then we had 3 main courses between us, of grilled cod in lime, chicken with cashew nuts, Hanoi chicken curry, plus a plate of vegetables and rice. All washed down with two pints of beer each all for a total price of 12 pounds, we left very satisfied.
Wandered back to the rounabout near the lake and went to the bar at the top of the roundabout to have a couple more beers and watch the cars, motorbikes and cyclos battle their way around the roundabout while also looking over the lake that was lit by multi coloured lights. a real nice way to end the day.