From Nanning to Hanoi
16.01.2011 - 25.01.2011 12 °C
I just got some amazing news! I worked for a couple of days on my Master Thesis on
Faulkner and now I just received an email from my Professor stating she is boosting
my grade from six to seven! That will look much better on my grade list! I'm really
happy I took the time to make some last amendments and it actually helped to stare
at a screen in several noisy, cold common rooms in hostels! Now I can finally stop
worrying about that as I just made a definitive request for my master's degree.
Today is our third day in Hanoi and we kind of hate it here! The pollution is terrible,
you have to walk around with a scarf around your head most of the time! And the
traffic is a total disaster, and not in a fun way! We thought China was busy and
unorganised, but it’s well-structured and clean in comparison with Hanoi. Of course this is just one city in Vietnam, but we hope fervently it will be better when we move
down South! Yesterday we walked for an hour through the chaos to find a bus station
so we could buy a ticket to Cat Ba (near Ha Long) and get an open-bus-ticket to
Hue or Hoi An, but of course you could only buy a ticket for the day itself (the Lonely
Planet needs an update here!). So, that kind of sucked and now we will have to
go for one of the more expensive deals in the hostel or at a travel agency. We're
really fed up with the exhausting experience of finding your way around Hanoi (the pavement
is filled with holes, there is junk everywhere.. people sitting drinking thee, building iron
ladders, displaying goods and food.. so you often have to walk on the street where
the cars and scooters flash by you and use their horns in a perfect cacophony of chaos!)
That’s why we’ve decided to buy our tickets in the hostel and of course it will be terribly
overpriced, but at least there will be no more hassle for a couple of days. We want
to go to Ha Long Bay for two days and after that travel to the middle of the country, to Hue or
Hoi An for Vietnamese New Year. We need to be sure we have a place to stay then and we’re somewhere we want to be as it’s likely we get stuck for a while.
That's the plan so far! And we were really excited to finally see some sunny beaches,
but for the next week the weather is rainy in the whole of Vietnam! How is it possible?
We went here a bit quicker in order to get out of the cold, only to find the rain (fortunately
not here in Hanoi yet). Maybe the forecast will be better for the week after?! And
Ha Long Bay will probably still be beautiful in the mist! Yesterday we met Matthias en Jeroen, two Dutch guys from Groningen (!) and they had a really good time in Ha Long
and said it was definitely worth it to go on a two day organised trip, so we're going to give it a try! At least it will be easy as you don't have to worry about food and transportation!
Besides walking around in the overcrowded narrow streets, we just managed to visit one temple! It was called The Temple of Literature, and though quite cute with Turtle statues and a nice pagoda, it was much less impressive than the Jinci Temple we saw in Hangzhou for example. We also had a walk around the Hồ Hoàn Kiếm Lake, which was nice, but all in all Hanoi is a bit disappointing.
So, for today we plan on doing nothing and relaxing for a day in the hostel! The hostel is quite nice (clean rooms, a really big movie room with comfy couches en free internet) and it’s quite easy to meet other nice backpackers, something we did miss out on so far! Maybe it was just coincidence or we just went to the wrong hostels, but we met so few backpackers in China! I reckon sharing travel experiences and meeting new people are after all the best part of travelling! In Nanning we did meet some nice people; like Lau, a really outgoing, overfriendly Brazilian soccer player who played some romantic Portuguese songs for us on his guitar. But if you can't really communicate with someone it gets dull soon. There was also a friendly English/French teacher working in Shanghai, so with him (Romain) and the Brazilian (Leonardo) we played some domino's (which Lau took very seriously) and talked about travel plans. In addition, Nanning was also useful as we were able to finally wash our clothes after three weeks (!) and I managed to make a pretty good book swap deal!
I will hopefully be able to update again in a couple of days after the Ha Long trip!