Rabu, 21 Disember 2011

Hanoi traveling stories

This year was pretty busy year for me. So I decided to take 10 days leaves and hide myself somewhere far away from home and work. I think sharing my traveling stories in Hanoi with you is not going to make my traveling less fun. So follow me for 10 days in Hanoi.

Day 1
I left Kota Kinabalu around midnight last night. Landing in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) around 1.00am. Then flew into Hanoi at 6.15am this morning. Arrived in Hanoi International Airport at 8.05am. Now the the real thing has just began. Getting the right taxi is something you got be really careful.

I managed to get the good one and it cost me USD 17 which I think quite reasonable. Actually the lady at the information counter told me that last time the taxi fare from Hanoi International Airport to the city center was USD10, but she said that was many years ago and now the new fare is USD 20. When I ask the staff who coordinate the taxis just outside the airport she told me the fare is USD17 with Vietnam Airlines Taxi. I did not managed to get the taxi fare of Noi Boi Taxis also one of the transport provider from the airport to the city. I heard many people had a bad taxi experience in Hanoi Airport. It took me 30 minutes walking around observing the sltuation before I made my mind jumping into one taxi driver to discuss the cost. Good thing now taxi there are properly regulated by the airport staffs.

I asked the taxi to send me to Lucky Star Hotel. Actually I did not booked with that hotel, just making use of its name as my drop of point as I know there will be many other hotels around the area. But then when I asked Lucky Star Hotel and found out that their room charges is onlt USD25, which I think quite reasonable I took up the room. With big and nice room, hot shower, big TV, king size bed, friendly hotel staffs, internet services and close to the lake, what more you could ask for USD25? I think Lucky Star is one of the best hotel in Hanoi. The hotel staffs was very helpful and accomodative. The hotel is located at a very strategic location in Old Quarter. Everything is just nearby withing walking distance.

Now, Hanoi is pretty busy city. Thousands if not millions of motorbikes on the road. For a newbies in this town, I found it difficult to cross the road but got used to it after several hours negotiating the traffics. Price of foods here are reasonable, mostly those food stalls on the road/street selling all types of local foods.

Night life in Hanoi is not bad, except that there are not so many karaoke, only one that I know of is the one near the railway station. SPA and massage is easy to get but they all charges pretty expensive. So if you are thinking about having a SPA, may be you can do it at the smaller city in Vietnam. Hanoi is so used to tourist that SPA become so expensive now.

One thing I like the most is the beer is so cheap. A big glass (almost the size of water jug) of draught local beers will cost you about RM2 or USD 0.60? Haha.

Tomorrow I am thinking of getting out of Hanoi to Lang Son, a small city located at the northeastern part of Hanoi. From there I will go up to Mau Son Mountian and prpbably will stay there for about 1 night. I intend to enjoy my Christmas Day somewhere at the smaller city in Vietnam instead of Hanoi.

And ahhh..I can't access my facebook here in Hanoi. It seems Facebook is blocked here in the hotel internet or the whole of Hanoi? Let ma find out tomorrow.

Day 2
Traveling to Lang Son

I'm here in Lang Son, Vietnam just arrived this afternoon. The bus to Lang Son was arranged by the hotel staff where I was staying. It cost me USD7 which I think it should be cheaper but well, the hotel takes care everything from sending you to the bus station up to telling the bus driver where you should be droped off. So it was OK to paying some extra Dong for those extra services.

I found a hotel by the name Dong Kinh Hotel, that is quite nice and clean. It cost me 300,000 VND / night. I think it is reasonable. The only problem is there is no internet connection (wifi) here and now I have to look for cyber cafe. I think most of the hotel in Lang Son do not have WiFi services expect those big fancy hotel of which I noticed only one here. Luckily Dong Kinh Hotel is located in a pretty strategic location,close to everything like bus station, internet cafe, ATM machines, restaurant, and market.  So I spent the day doing nothing just walking around aimless tyring to feel the pulse of the city. And I had a big dinner at one of the restaurant.

Language problem

I found is difficult to get what I want here in this city. It seems English language useless here. Nobody seems to understand English, not even the ladies at the hotel reception counter. Ordering food is a big problem. They don't understand you, and yet their menu is all in Vietnamese language without translation to English. So make sure you learn some Vietnamese language when you travel to this part of Vietnam. The same problem when you trying to get a Taxi or buying anything in the shop. So your bargaing skills here doesn't works. :P

Day 3

I spent the morning getting a good breakfast at the food stall by the roadside near the hotel. After that  I spent the whole morning visiting the two large caves located within walking-distant from Dong Kinh Hotel. I forgot the names of the caves. I will mention them later in the next update.

The caves was pretty big and beautiful but since I'm not so interested in visiting cave so I took me only 1 hour to cover the two caves in Lang Son city.

Traveling to Mau Son Mountian
Right after the caves, I found a motorbikes who agree to send me up on Mau Son Mountian. Mou Son is located at about 1500 meters above sea level on the Chinese-Vietnam boarder. The journey going up the mountian takes about 35 minutes navigating a winding roads. It cost me 200,000 VND for the journey with the motorbike.

The tempreture up there is freezing cold that I need to put on 3 layers of clothes all the time. The cold tempreture coupled with strong wind blowing at such a high speed making the stay up there very torturing. So I spent the afternoon sitting around the fire pit at the open space near the hotel with the local to stay warm. We sat there for hours but I was just listening as I don't understand what was being talked about, and they can't speak English.

Again, language problem is the main big thing there. Check-in to the hotel requires extra energy to talk with the  hotel/homestay owner. You will need hand sign/body language plus some drawing skills on the paper to get what you need. The good thing is the people are so friendly and accomodation is also cheap. It cost me only 200,000 VND per night which I think quite cheap for such good room.

Day 4

Now I'm back here in Lang Son, staying at the same hotel. I'm thinking about spending 2 night here. I will attend church services for the Christmas here. I'm still looking around whether or not there is any church here. So after this, I will go out hunting for church for tomorrow Christmas. Good luck to me.

To be continue....

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