Another night bus left us in Hanoi at 6am. We quickly hopped into a taxi after the driver assured us it was on the meter. After about 5 minutes of the journey Tom noticed the meter read 250,000 dong about £8! We asked the driver to pull over as we knew he had rigged the meter (it was meant to be 10,000dong/km. He had rigged it to 105,000/km!) we got out of the taxi and asked him to put the correct amount on the meter as was displayed all over the taxi. He refused, locking Lucy’s bag in the boot until we payed him the money! After a long stand off and him threatening to take us to the police we managed to haggle him down to 100,000 (£3.50) for this 2km journey! Luckily it was light and we quickly hailed a new taxi to take us the rest of the way for the correct fair! As soon as we arrived at the hostel we met another couple who had the exact same thing happen to them, making us feel a bit better about the situation.
We sat in the hostel for the morning planning our trip to Ha Long Bay. A beautiful set of rocks in the middle of the sea, supposedly one of the new seven wonders of the world.
We headed out to explore Hanoi, wandering around the city and visiting the large lake in the middle. By chance we arrived on the weekend which meant that the whole perimeter was traffic free, allowing us to freely roam around and visit the temple in the middle of the lake! We tried to have a historical afternoon, visiting a number of sites with political importance such as Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, only to find them all shut! Making the most of a long and unfruitful walk, we went to a neighbouring market to pick up some discount fruit before taking full advantage of the free beer hour(s) at the hostel! Between a group of eight a whole keg was drunk!
Another night, another noodle soup, after we walked around the night market tempting ourselves away from some suspect looking sushi. Maybe it was the beer, but for once we found ourselves being sociable and even headed out into the night with other tourists, something novel for us.
The morning planning had been well spent as we’d hatched a plan to leave by public bus to the port before heading to Cat Ba island.