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The Beauty and the Beast

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

The morning of my Halong Bay trip, I woke up before my alarm, as I often do when I know I need to wake up for something and am anticipating the alarm. I showered and had some time to watch a little TV before heading down for a quick breakfast of pho, or beef noodle soup, and waited for my pickup. In the lobby were two girls I hadn’t seen before, one having severe difficulty on the painfully slow guesthouse computer. I chatted with the other one, and we both realized we were all booked on the same Halong Bay trip, though I was only on for one night and two days, and they were on for two nights. Another couple came downstairs, and they were also checking out and going on our tour, and were also on the 2 night trip. Realizing this might be a chance to meet some people traveling in the same direction as me, I changed my trip to include the second night and paid the difference.Though we were told to be ready by 8, our pickup didn’t come until almost 9, a seemingly common occurence, as they tell everyone 8, but depending on where you are in the pickup, you might be last and almost an hour later. We grabbed our bags and set off with our guide to the bus parked a block away. Though it was early and we were all a bit tired, we chatted easily and were all clearly ready to get out of the city. [read on]

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?!

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

My early morning taxi ride from the train station to the Old Quarter took only a few minutes, and after a couple of head shakes and puzzled looks, my driver found the small alleyway where my desired guesthouse was located. After finding where the guesthouse was supposed to be, I saw a sign that said they were closed for remodeling, so I went into the one next door where a few other people were already milling around the lobby. After talking to the young woman running the place, she said they had a room but that it wouldn’t be available until after 11 when the person checked out. I said that was fine, but in reality was so tired that I just couldn’t imagine walking around trying to find another place. Since it was only about 6am, I cleaned up a bit in their bathroom and walked around the streets for a little while, and had some coffee. It was a nice morning and Hanoi was almost peaceful at this hour, though there were plenty of people already buzzing around. After wandering around for about an hour, I headed back to my guesthouse and waited for my room, and watched TV in the lobby. Luckily, the room opened up sooner than they thought, and I managed to get in there a bit after 10am. Not wanting to waste the morning, and since I was up already, I quickly showered and went out again to explore. [read on]