Hanoi - bamboo ladders
Here is a street scene from the Old Quarter of Hanoi. In this street they sell bamboo products such as ladders. In other vstreets they sell either shoes CD's, hardware, fruit, whisky or clothes or whatever else, all shops selling similar things found next to each other. Everywhere very busy by daylight, after a slightly later start than down south. At 10 pm however the streets are empty again.
It has been cold and grey whilst we have been in Hanoi so everyone has been dressed in winter clothing and woolly hats. The people seemed at first to be more reserved than down south but we have found themn to be every bit as friendly, certainly the people at the hotel we are staying at - the Hanoi Blue Star Hotel, and the places we have eaten, going very much against the stereotype of unfriendly notherners. The city has balls and we like it and despite what we had written earlier we are not going to have too much time here as we have a change of plan.
My uncle suggested that we make the same trip that he made nine years ago, travelling by 4wd to the mountains towards the border with Laos, visiting places such as Ha Son and Dien Bien Phu and Mai Song before joining up with our tour of Sa Pa and Bac Ha. We found an excvellent person to help us on this mission, namely Hoang Tuan Anh of Vietnam Geographic Holiday (http://www.geoholiday.net). It took most of the afternoon to realise but we now have a plan. The main question is whether or not we make a trip for the last couple of days down to Ha Long Bay. We have a driver and a Toyota Land Cruiser (from 1988) for five days, all accommodation, meals and entrace fees included for just $ 460 or $ 230 each, which is a lot cheaper than the rpices we were paying for similar in Africa. A pity to have to leave Hanoi in such a hurry, but we have spent quite a bit of time in towns and cities and it will be nice to spend time in the mountains and visiting the minority tribes. Thanks, Uncle Malcolm for the suggestion. We hope to be able to keep in touch in the coming days, but it may be more blog than photos. We'll see.