Monday, 7 December 2009

Hanoi and the Long Road to Laos

We spent 2 nights in Hanoi, having arrived back from Halong Bay around lunchtime. We went for a wander with Kris who took us down through the old quarter and to the lake. The old quarter was like a market of sorts, where every street sold a different product – shoes one street, DVD's another, one dedicated to Christmas decorations. We had to walk in the road, because every shop extended their wares onto the pavement. You're quickly used to putting your faith into the scooter riders to avoid you. On the first night, we went to see a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show. It was really weird, the puppeteers behind a screen, frantically thrashing wooden puppets about in a green pool enacting Vietnamese fairytales and religious stories – most odd.

The next day, we went to see Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum – there was drama on the way as we thought we were going to miss the opening hours – we ured our taxi through the traffic and ran in, only to find we'd gone into the Ho Chi Minh museum instead! We found the right place and saw the man himself – it's strange, apparently he wanted to be cremated. Next was the post office, and Sara and I dragged our stuff across town to put in a big package and send back – literally weight off our backs! That evening was the last for some of our group, so we saw them off with a nice meal, and then hit the hay for a monster travel day to Laos.

Up at 5.30am for the bus at 6, we began an 11 hour bus ride to Lac Sao, a town just past the border. We travelled through some stunning scenery, Vietnam is incredibly beautiful, the mountains go on for ever. We wound our way up to one of the highest points, where a lady was renting a toilet with one of the best views I've ever seen – the gents' at least!

The border crossing was easy, but the guards were a bit pervy over the ladies of the group, and from there we made our way to Lac Sao, a town 45 mins from the border with an amazing view of a sunset over a mountain and not much else!

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