Saturday, March 10, 2007

Due to the concern for Ramis' health link(Ramis' Hernia) and the future of the trip, we were not really in the mood of being 'tourists' in Hanoi. We were a whole week in the city, in 'Kims Do' hotel, a cute little hotel, which took us as 'part of the family'. They even got used to the idea of having 2 bicycles in their kitchen, even tough they refused, first.
Most of the time we were walking around town, in the big streets, filled with traffic (you must be there to believe) and in the small alleys, eating on every second food stall and drinking extremely cheep "Bia Hoi" (drought beer).
Rural central Vietnam (the poorest), where we came from, and Hanoi, are 2 different worlds, in almost every aspect. Food wise, we finally saw food stalls, all around and a big variety. we finally saw the famous Vietnamese Egg-Rolls! People were much more sophisticated. Internet worked (we finally managed to enter our blog).
We tried extending our visa, so we could leisurely go to Ha-Long-Bay & Sapa, but too many difficulties & uncertainties on the way + the terrible traffic - we decided just to leave Vietnam.
We were told there's lots of traffic towards the Chinese border (both towards Kunming & Naning), so we decided to take a train out of Hanoi, north, to the border towards Naning, so we'll not land in big mountains.

We'll use this opportunity to thank Anh & Lien, Colleagues & friends of Ramis' parents, a beautiful couple who live in Hanoi. They were there when we needed them, caring just like one's parents, and spoiling us with too much food.After 3.5 months away from home, and in the state we were it was just what we needed and could have wished for.

Entering Hanoi... fun, fun, fun...

The park, central Hanoi.

Green light. Go, go, go!
The train North
We decided it's time to leave Hanoi, and Gal decided it's going to be on a train.
After the dedicated hotel staff failed to figure out from which station the train departs, we went to the main train station, near our hotel, to get it done. After a long wait we were told the train departs from this station (good for us) at 05:40; "be there 1 hour before", & we could buy the ticket there (so if we won't get up...). Luckily, 04:00 was about the safest time to cycle in Hanoi ;-)
Rami was a bit worried about the situation (Rami is always worried about something): the last days of our visa, waking up for the train, cycling in the dark, reaching the station & finding there is no luggage compartment, or the train departs in the other station, and Gal not wanting to take a train on the following day - her birthday!
It all went as smooth as a baby's ass!
We got up on time, packed, quickly reached the station, the train was there, with the luggage compartment, the tickets were cheaper than we were told and the train left on time with us on it.
The tracks of the train were elevated from the ground, like a long, old bridge over Hanoi. Gal would like to thank the designers of the tracks.
The train ride was just the way it should be: very slow, many stops, many people of all kinds going on & off the train, all sorts of food, tea & water-pipes/bangs offered every minute.
We left the train in Langson, 20 k"m from the border, a cute town with friendly people & some temples tucked in Lime stones.
The safe way to leave Hanoi...

Smoking in the train!
The last 20 k"m
We planned our last ride in Vietnam - 20 k"m to the border. We left Langson to the highway (one lane in each direction - not bad, in local standards). After 2 k"M a truck, coming towards us, 50 meters away, lost her back wheel and started moving past our lane. 20 meters in front of us she crashed into the canal on our side of the road. The cargo part of the truck twisted and the load of pebbles spilled. The front windshield was smashed. In a tenth of a second the too heavy truck came to a halt. The back, double-wheel was rolling past us, and scratched the back of a minibus behind us.
Gal was terrified. Before I could see, her bike & trailer were on the floor & she was way back - an instinct she mastered to perfection.
After about 1 minute, in which everybody stopped doing anything, the top door of the truck opened (now there were a 'top' door & a 'bottom' door) and the 2 guys in the truck just jumped out, looking at "what god did to us", just like in the old "The A team" series - the bad guys never die...
We (Gal) were in no condition to continue cycling.
We decided to stop at Dong Dang, the border town, 3 k"m away, one of our favorite places in Vietnam. we spent the day touring the market. Just like Lak Sao, border town markets are fun.
The next morning we quickly cycled the last 3 k"m.
Passport control was worse than the market, no surprise...

Our balcony.

Did we mention that we sent our winter clothes two days ago?

09/03/2007 Gal is 28 :-).


The market at the border town.

Our hotel.

Last 3 km in Vietnam.

Good bye Vietnam.