Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Last Day Halong Bay to Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, 29 March 2007 10:15pm

Our last full day in Vietnam. We had breakfast and lunch at the Ocean Beach resort. Jessica beat me at a very long game of pool (it was misting on the table, the felt was super-grabby, the cues weren't remotely straight, and we still haven't regained any of the skill we had in our Botany Bay days), and a game of Cassino. I seem to have caught a cold, so we didn't try anything more ambitious like kayaking.

We returned to the mainland by a series of larger and larger boats. We left the pier on a tiny boat that seemed about to capsize once five tourists and their luggage were piled aboard. That boat was propelled by pushing along the bottom with a kayaking paddle until the water was deep enough to use the outboard motor. Next, we transferred to a swank cruiser with a carpeted living room on its lower deck. That took us as far as Cat Ba Town. At Cat Ba, we transferred to a speedboat, which made the trip to Haiphong in about an hour.

By this point, it was at least 4:30pm. I needed to be in Hanoi before 7pm to pick up my pinstripe suit, but we figured that wouldn't be a problem, since it's only an hour's drive, right? It probably would have been, but the bus driver was the sanest, most relaxed driver we've encountered in Vietnam. It was a funny reversal to find myself resenting him for moving right to let other traffic pass on the left, and braking to give traffic crossing the highway more room. We also had another one of the suspicious tourist stops. Jessica asked if we could just continue on, since it was already almost 5:30 and we were only about halfway. One of the other tourists had to go to the bathroom, though, so we stopped. Apparently she and one of her companions also needed to shop for souvenirs. I finally got dropped off at the north end of Hoan Kiem Lake (the closest that a bus that size could get to my destination on Old Hanoi's narrow streets) at about 6:30, and walked to the tailor's shop by 6:38.

I picked up that suit, then went to the silk store to pick up my linen suit. It looked better, but had obviously been stored in a plastic bag for a while, instead of on a hanger, so it was hard to tell what it'll look like when the wrinkles are pressed out.

I met up with Jessica at our hotel... except it turned out that they didn't have the room we'd reserved when we last checked out. After a bit of dithering, we accepted a complimentary taxi transfer to another hotel.

I'd spent all of our big bills on the suits. Dinner at a tiny restaurant across the street from our hotel has reduced us to 22,000 VND (Dismissed as coincidence). Our hotel will take USD instead, so all we need to get is breakfast tomorrow before we head out to the airport.