Saturday, 22 February 2014

Before I left Thailand I had been talking of my trip to Vietnam and that I would be flying out in a couple of days.  A guy I sort of know (drinks at same bar, we play pool a little and chat) needs to do a visa run and wants a short holiday so decides he will join me.  No worries, be nice to have company.  So in the early hours after about 3 farewell dinners and parties for me we jump in a taxi and head to the airport, bound for Hanoi.
We arrive in the morning and get a cab in to town to a hotel I have booked, through Agoda as usual, and they try the old hotel scam on us.  Now I have read about this and still almost got sucked in, probably due to the fact that I haven’t slept yet!  

The taxi will take you to your hotel and he has a mate stand out the front who will come out and tell you ‘sorry we have problem here, but we will take you to our other hotel and you can stay there’.  Now I know that we stopped in front of the hotel I booked and this guy appeared to look the part and come walking out from inside so I agreed to this.
Anyway we go check the other place out which is nowhere near as nice, so I tell them ‘no way, this isn’t what I paid for, take me back to other place so I can see what’s going on’. Not a problem, I guess they just try their luck and see if they can get away with it because, lo and behold, our taxi guy is still waiting out front and will take us back for free.  How convenient, he was waiting around to see if we fell for it or not?!  Fucken wankers, welcome to Vietnam, land of scams.  Don’t be shy, if they try this on, say ‘NO WAY’.
The real hotel, Hanoi Asa Star, is great and the staff friendly with decent English.  We are soon booked in and they also have a room for Barry and his girlfriend.  After a well needed rest we go exploring the city and man is this place hectic, crazy hectic.  The Old Quarter is literally a maze of weaving, weird angled, tiny streets that have you jumping clear of cars and scooters every 3 seconds.
The first couple of days here almost put me off Vietnam, but obviously I know better than to run off with my tail between legs and decide after a few days just to get the hell out of Hanoi for a start and regroup.  

Barry is not much of a traveler though and after 1 night out in Hanoi, which was actually really fun, he books a plane ticket back to Bangkok!  It was all too  much for him but seriously I don’t blame the guy, I like to think I’m almost a pro at this now and it was too bloody busy for me to enjoy.
But enjoy I did!  The first night out after the other 2 had gone to bed I wandered on solo and found my way to some local nightclubs where I was the only whitey for quite a while, not normally my scene but it was kinda fun, man these Vietnamese sure know how to party (I think you will be hearing that phrase quite a bit during the story!) 

I was at 2 of these places then kicking it with a young expat and some locals at another joint.  Was a great night until the cops showed up and kicked everybody out, apparently this is normal if the place is too full or music too loud (people having too much fun).