16 September and we are up at 3:00am today (yawn) for our 6:45 am Air Asia flight from Bangkok’s impressive Suvarnabhumi Airport to Hanoi, arriving at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport to begin our Vietnam journey.
First things first, we bundle into a taxi and make our way to the hotel of choice, the Blue Paradise Hotel (sounds nice) which is located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Normally this is where I say I am checked in, the hotel is lovely etc etc….not this time….once we arrive at the hotel, we find ourselves in a ridiculous situation (and possibly dangerous) where we were greeted (virtually as the taxi pulled up in front of the hotel) and told there is an over-booking or something to that effect and that my brother and his girlfriend will have to stay and sort out another hotel and I will be taken to sister or associated hotel. I am bundled into another taxi and taken away.
So there I was, I have just arrived in Hanoi, I have been separated from my brother and his girlfriend and am in a taxi on my own, not knowing if I am being taken to another hotel or will ever be seen again. It was quite crazy and you hear these stories and wonder how these situations can happen but it all happened so quickly that we weren’t given time to think or make any decisions of our own.
I am taken to a hotel, sort of…the taxi driver drops me across the street and down the road a bit from what could be a hotel and points…I walk to where he was pointing vaguely and thank goodness there is a hotel there which looks ok. “I am checked in, the hotel is lovely”…well its clean anyway and its got a window….looking at brick wall (sigh)…so far I am not feeling the love from Hanoi…time to figure out where my brother is.
I manage to make contact but am still not sure when I can expect to meet up with my brother. With most of the morning already gone I waste no time heading out of my reasonably priced hotel, through the streets of the Old Quarter toward Hoan Kiem Lake. I enjoy the walk very much, through the cluttered sidewalks of the Old Quarter, its specialised streets with shop after shop of wares or services.
Things are looking up until I have to cross my first main road…my strategy…keep an even walking pace….hope that the seemingly constant onslaught of bicycles, motorbikes and cars will move themselves around me…and stop when you reach the other side. I get across in one piece.…phew! My reward for having crossed the road…lunch and relax. Its been quite a morning.
After lunch I begin a full circuit of the lovely Hoan Kiem Lake which takes me about 30 minutes and works out perfectly as I have managed to arrange to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend at the river restaurant to hear all about their morning.
My brother and girlfriend are not feeling any love from Hanoi either. It turns out they basically got scammed to go to another hotel. They also nearly got scammed into getting our motorbikes from friends/relations of these guys but fortunately they didn’t go through with the deal.
By now its late afternoon and the 3 of us get a taxi to meet my brother’s friend. The place we are meeting…”Finnegan’s Irish Pub”…yes, we meet at an Irish pub called Finnegan’s in Hanoi, Vietnam.
With the meeting place sorted, all we had to do was get there…sounds easy enough….until the taxi driver drops us at a place which is not Finnegan’s Irish Pub, which we don’t realise until we have paid him the taxi fare and got out of the taxi and he has driven away. The taxi driver has taken us for a ride…literally. My brother is not happy, this is the second time he has been scammed today. So…we find ANOTHR taxi and try AGAIN. This time our resolve is to not get out of the taxi until we are in front of a building with a sign that says “Finnegan’s Irish Pub”. Found it….finally!! …two taxi fares and one scam later.
We grab a booth at the front and chill until my brother’s friend arrives and there is another regaling of how we were scammed twice today.
From here we head to “Legend Beer” (restaurant/bar). Legend Beer (http://legendbeer.vn/vi/trang-chu.h1.bic – for those who speak Vietnamese) is located on an upper floor of a building on Dinh Tien Hoang, by Hoan Kiem Lake. Its attraction for me is that it has an upstairs balcony overlooking a busy crossroad.
We grab a prime balcony table, order a meal each and are content to spend the rest of our evening there chatting, mesmerised and amused by the seeming chaos of the traffic below and bewildered at how, with so many seemingly close calls…not one single solitary accident…amazing…[showmyads]
For previous Vietnam post see Wat we did in Bangkok, Thailand is Wat Pho and Wat Intharawihan
For next Vietnam post see Hanoi, Vietnam to Ha Long Bay on a Honda Motorbike