The first evening

We were told to meet in the hotel restaurant at 6pm, ready for our first meeting of the holiday and to have dinner. Even though I arrived on time, it seemed I was the third to last of our of fifteen to sit down. We met our tour guide, Ning (not spelt that way, but my Vietnamese is too poor to remember), who did some introductions and went through the trip in more detail.

Then we all trooped out to dinner with our guide, who recommended the local fish dish and the local beer. I can only describe the food as ‘self assembly soup’ with blobs of fried fish and LOTS of dill and spring onion. It was all pretty yum!

After dinner we headed out to the night markets. To me, they were like an Asian, open-air version of Leeds markets, but even cheaper! I saw jumpers for a couple of US dollars. We tootled on down to the lake at the centre of Hanoi to take photos of the red bridge. This was my first experience of crossing a busy Hanoian road. The aim is to walk calmly and purposefully to your destination, and trust the motorbikes and cars just to dodge you. To do that without stopping takes guts! But then the average speed of bikes can’t be more than 10-15 mph, so it’s not as crazy as employing the same concept on a road in central London, say.

We finally got to bed about midnight, at which point I zonked out completely. An hour later and I was awake again! Stupid jet lag. I got about 5 hours sleep in the end and I don’t feel too horrendous today. Now for a morning walking tour around Hanoi, afternoon water puppets show and an overnight train to Sa Pa!

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