Archive for February, 2010

The first day

Okay so what was the first thing I did that I said I wouldn’t fall for this time.  It was paying too much for a taxi into Hanoi central from the airport.  850 Dong he says, great I thought – cheap.  It was only 850,000 Dong, £30 xe.com says.  Will I learn my lesson?

I booked myself into the Hanoi Backpacker Hostel.  Not a bad place, got a room to myself, free wifi decent shower.  A young couple were just booking themselves in after I, so I tagged along with them for the evening.  I would have felt somewhat uneasy my first night here on my own so it was good to have some company.

We wandered around aimlessly for a bit looking for somewhere to eat, before deciding on a roadside eatery full of locals.  They spoke no English at all and our attempts to try and order what we wanted were in vain.  The young chef in the end pointed to what a family were eating beside us and we agreed to have three of what they were having to make things simple.  An odd meal but quite delicious.

We then headed out to find a bar and found a local bar around the corner.  We had about 5 beers and it came to a meager 30,000 D, about £1.  This is the kinda place I will be drinking from now on.

This night on our wanderings looking for bars the guide book suggested we came to eventually understand the rules for crossing the many busy roads here.  Basically just cross when you like regardless of the traffic but don’t hesitate.  The traffic will dodge you not the other way around.  It really is insane, you see Vietnamese people not even looking as the cross, they just look straight ahead and keep going.  Not that I am that brave, or that stupid but just crossing the roads here is something I need to get used to.

Something else I will have to get used to is the fact most of the bars around here close around 11pm and the streets quickly become deserted, dark and a little unnerving.  The hostels shutters were closed and the lights off when we finally made our way back.  I would imagine it not a safe place to be wondering around on your own this time at night.

I found a bar popular with travelers and I will be back there tomorrow to find out about getting a bike.  I don’t imagine I will be staying too long in Hanoi.  Once I get a bike I will be off but not before I have seen the Citadel and the other important sites in Hanoi.

Hanoi one way

Have I got everything? I checked and re-checked my luggage having managed to squeeze my belongings into my slightly too large rucksack.  This was not going to be just some short trip or even a long holiday. I was heading for the possibility of a new start in Australia passing through South East Asia along the way. I had to make sure I had everything I needed.

With the clothes I would probably be wearing for the next week, my slightly too large, a little too heavy rucksack and my satchel at my side, this was it, I was finally on my way.  I took the 20 minute walk through Hackney to the nearest tube station so I could soak up my surroundings, this would be the last I see of London and the last time I would see England for god knows how long.  My mind fixated on what may lay ahead and of what I am leaving behind.  I am moving forward into a new era of my life, the unknown ahead of me invoking excitement and adventure and at the same time a bit of unease and not without a sense of fear, but travel I must and I’m looking forward to what this adventure has to throw at me.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain