I’m here in Hanoi, after a fair amount of hassle getting here. The flight was fine, except that I left my watch on the plane which, strangely enough, has not been found. Looks like I’ll have to get a fake Rolex for 2 quid for the time being. The next hassle was negotiating a place in a minibus for the trip downtown, then the actual journey was quite a laugh, I’ve never seen so many motorbikes on the road, not even in India, there are literally hundreds of them using up the whole width of the road at once, trying to dodge the oxen, chickens and pedestrians. Crossing the road is a similar game, you just have to walk out into the traffic, slowly, giving the bikes hopefully enough time to see you and miss you one side or the other. It seems to work, I only had one bike fall over in front of me last night spilling it’s two passengers onto the road, but at least they avoided me. They got up, rubbed their grazes a bit and carried on.

Hanoi seems to be quite an interesting town what I saw of it wondering around, but have not made the most of it yet as the anti-biotics I’m on are making me feel a bit like a space cadet at the moment. There was something quite novel in the bars, as soon as you walk in the door you get hounded by a group of gorgeous Vietnamese girls, one begging you to drink Tiger wearing a Tiger dress, one Carlsberg in a Carlsberg dress, one Ha Noi (yes, there is a beer in Hanoi called “Ha Noi”), one Hindberg, etc. It’s the same everywhere you go, seemingly the girls are on commission from the breweries. As soon as you have one quarter of your beer left, they’re all back again with the same spiel. Very odd.

The hotel is a lovely old French colonial place, albeit fairly expensive at USD 25 a night, irritatingly the hotels all publish their rates in USD rather than Dong, which burns a whole in the 2 million Dong that I have in my pocket, or, as some witty arse cracked – “Is that a million Dong in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”

Onto the next challenge, to see if i can book a trip to Halong Bay for the next day or two.