Friday 30 March 2012: Loadii extremii #2 "It's the real thing"
Last nights hotel rejoices in the name "Thanh Phuc". I kid you not, however it should have been "fer phuc sake". Bed was truly like a brick, huge, but hard as a rock. There was a bottom sheet, but no top sheet, and a furry polyester blanket harbouring various stains and stiff bits.
Despite there being about 60 people eating when we arrived at just after seven, they could not provide food. Nor would one of two restaurants opposite. The other was infested with mozzies, amongst others.
There was no hot water for the shower, and I'd swear the A/C sucked instead of blew The towels were about 2 x hankie size. Kettle present,whilst all else absent. No breakfast. Thinnest walls ever. Agoda.com? No thanks.
Taxi @ 4 am. Train @ 5:30. Bunks instead of expected soft seats, and persons occupying ours. No probs, we took the other two, lower, bunks and everyone had a kip. Had planned this so we could travel the scenic bits in daylight, but didn't allow for the early morning mist. Saw virtually nothing of the limestone "mountains" for the haze, which lifted as we reached the lower flat region again. Sorry to be blase, but there's a limit to how many paddy fields and water buffalo light your fire.
Our upper bunk travelling companions departed at Thanh Hoa, only to be replaced by 3 generations of a family whose matriarch insisted that we return to our upper bunks, as the 5 of them wished to occupy the lowers. Oh, do I wish I had some command of Vietnamese. I tried French and we ended up, up.
Arrived Hanoi 2 hours ahead of schedule, we thought, and were so taken by surprise that I got off, leaving my glasses. Returned 30 seconds later and they were gone. A passing official understood, kicked up phuc, and the glasses were handed back by a sheepish looking guy. I asked no questions.
Taxi to hotel. It's down there the driver indicated, and sure enough it was, round several corners and down dark alleys hiding a multitude of small hotels, food places (I hesitate to call the restaurants) and backpacker bars, with rooms of course.
All is well with the hotel other than the lift is phucd.
Early to bed as we are knackered, and we have a whole new city to explore on the morrow. There's a real buzz about the place :-)