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Nam Man! - Mirror?
Rating: (4.7)

Hanoi, Vietnam
Aug 15, 2004 01:16

Pros: fascinating place, many things to do and see, friendly locals, good food
Cons: none

'Good morning Vietnam!!!!' Shouted Gary, James and I from our balcony!!! Not the first to do it, very much doubt we'll be the last but it was extremely funny!

What is it with me and meeting a great bunch of people? If i fell out of a hotel balcony i'd land either 'on my feet' or in a deck chair surrounded by honies all eager to keep me well stocked with beer! So, now sharing a 2 bed room with James, Gary and Nicola - a top irish lass whom the geordies met in Vang Vieng.

'Oh no, stated one of the girls i was dining with in Vietienne. Her eyes caught sight of 2 lads who'd they'd met the night before and, as it turned out, they weren't too impressed with their choice of lines that had been used in the art of seduction. I then turned to gaze upon the lads in question and looked upon James and Gary - 2 lads, sorry, top lads! whom i had the pleasure to meet in Vang Vieng! Party animals!!! So, prefering to be outnumbered by ladies, we (as a group of 3) made our excuses and left. I made loose arrangements with Gary and James to meet the following day as we were all off to Vietnam.... I left thinking i'd never see them again! So, there i was, sat on a bus with a, what turned out to be 36 hours bus journey laying ahead of me! I'm trying to get comfortable on my seat which consisted of badly moulded plastic and undersized head rests - actually, the whole seat was undersized for any westerner. After positioning myself in the least uncomfortable position i could squeeze into, i heard a familiar accent.....'how way man' It was Georide.... that meant James and Gary! i looked up to cast my gaze upon the lads fully kitted up in Newcastle football tops!(I am an honoury now Geodie by the way) The seat next to we was quickly taken by James and we endured the next day and a half in eachothers fine company with banter being on top of the agenda! We also enjoyed a bottle of whiskey together. It was natural, upon arrvial in Hanoi, for the 3 of us to share a room.

Ok, cultural bit. We have so far been to:- (these 4 snipits were written on the 17th august incase you get confused later on with the second to last paragraph)

1, Hanoi jail - they stress the point far too much that the american POW's were treated so well that anyone with an ounce of intelligence would doubt it. Quite emotional to walk around it and see old cells that we used in the early 1900's during French occupancy. Second only infact to Alchvitz which i visited as a fresh faced 13 year old.

2, Ho Chi Mings tomb who, apparently, against the wishes of his will, has been preserved in a glass case for all to see (he wanted to be cremated). He looks like he died yesterday and the corpse enjoys (is that the correct term) a 3 month trip to Russia each year to maintain freshness (again, is that the correct term?) It's quite eary seeing him and disturbing to see locals forcing their kids of all ages to see the tomb. Many of the kids were in tears! I saw this in company with James, Sarah and Nic and of course, being in a situation where silence is the only accepted sound, we all got the giggles. not in a dis-respectful way. I caught james's eye and we both quickly looked away from eachother, both desperatly trying not to laugh. Then i heard a sniffle of laughter from him and i nearly broke. I returned his muffled laughter and we both had to take a few moments to compose ourselves. This wasn't aided when a guard approached us and kindly took us by the arm and assisted us to walk in the direction of the crowd. 'Oh, i thought i had to walk against the crowd so thank you so much for showing me' They really do treat you like kids! I later asked another guard which way i had to walk and he again, showed me to continue walking with the flow. I asked him to confirm this which he did. God i love the English sense of humour!

3, Statue of Ho Chi Ming

4, Ho Chi Minh Museum - again, a comical visit for Sarah, James, Nic and I. En-route we crossed a bridge over a pond. It began with me encouraging fish to fight eachother. Having purchased some journey bread earlier in the day, i decided to feed the fish. There was a crowd of about 40 locals on the bridge watching all manner of fish swim around about 6 foot below. So, i threw in a few crumbs and the fish went crazy for it. Encouraged by the group, the crumbs became the size of small pebbles making the fish go even crazier. Seriously, big fish were flipping smaller fish up and out of the water! Don't worry, they landed back in the water. I failed to notice the approaching security guard who had heard the commotion, so i threw in a piece of bread the size of a fist!!! I didn't see what happened but heard the large splashing sounds of the fish fighting for the food! So, the museum, weird to say the least. Very oddly laid out with sculptures of huge pieces of fruit. We were not impressed with this and left shortly afterwards.

So, now in Hanoi and have partied hard with the Geordie lads, making an abundance of friends along the way.... Last night we went to a Australian bar called 'The spotted cow' and met a great crowd of all ages and backgrounds. The pub itself has a very friendly atmosphere with the most comical pictures of cows i've ever seen. As it turns out, most of us are all heading down south with the same itinery so it looks as though the group will remain together - what was i saying about the group of people making or breaking a place? Also, a point of note here is that my 'friend' Sarah whom i met in Thailand is flying over to Hanoi and arrives tomorrow! She was (is) as top lass and i now look forward to spending the following 12 days in her company, along with everyone else. Basic itinery will be, spend a day or 2 in Hanoi with her, sight seeing and taking romantic moon lit walks by Hoan Kiem lake. Then off to Halong Bay for maybe a day then south for beaching and more group bonding. Times are again so good for me, i'm loving travelling and meeting people. the other day i got talking to a local guy called 'Long' (?) and we sat by the lake, ate mango and drank ice tea... A very bizare meeting but i'm meeting him again for similar! Last night i enjoyed chatting to 4 local lads who were the nicest people you could ever hope to meet! Again, meeting them later and look forward to warm conversation. A point of note here is that Vietnamese see white skin and think American. As soon as they are informed that I am from GREAT Britain (we are all great afterall aren't we?) we get a much better service and treated better.. Also, another bit of advice to any other traveller is to learn the following words in local tongue:-

1) Hello
2) Goodbye
3) Thankyou
4) Delicious - this one is particually important in restaurants - bigger servings upon re-visits

I can now say all 4 words in about 4 asian languages and it help immencely!