I had visited Hanoi back in 2011 and had planned to stay the weekend to visit Ha Long Bay. But had to come back for some reason I can’t remember. So my plan was to never actually go to Hanoi and have the tour bus pick me up at hotel at airport and return to airport and out next morning. I knew this would be a tough transition with obtaining visa, finding small hotel, and confirming tour would actually pick up at random hotel in middle of nowhere. Visa worked out fine. Finding hotel about 40 minute ordeal that included a scooter ride from a 12 year old (who didn’t know where to go either but we found it -only time backpack needed). Once on wifi – got email from tour company that they didn’t pick up at airport hotels and I needed to go to Hanoi. So hotel arranged a ride but taxi driver didn’t know where Opera House located – he gave up and dropped me off in center of town. No one knew where Opera House located. Found tourist and looked at map and walked there…luckily I had allowed some extra time. Apparently it was pronounced the “Oprah House”. Everyone knew where Oprah House was…was dropped back off at Oprah House about 8pm so stayed for dinner. More time in Hanoi than expected, but glad I did as it is much nicer and continuing to improve. Probably one of the nicer city centers in Southeast Asia.
Brutal trip in one day to Halong bay…recommend at least 2 days if you come and to take an overnight cruise. Eight hours on a minibus and four hours on the boat/bay. But truly spectacular…similar to Phang-nga in Thailand – but sunny and clear and a faster boat.
Interesting stories on trip down from tour guide – he said after the American war (that is what they called it) there was a lack of young men so polygamy was encouraged and maximizing births was mandated by the communist government. Then population grew too fast so in mid-1980 the USSR provided 2 billion condoms for population control….no reduction in birth rate. Apparently they were designed for Russia men and were too big and fell off, thus useless. Not sure the Vietnam chamber of commerce excited about that story.
Another story from the proud communist – total sharing of everything doesn’t work. When the proceeds of the rice field were spilt evenly, young men were lazy and old women ended up doing most of the work but little rice produced. Once the land was divided evenly and everyone reaped the proceeds of their work, the young men had to work to get money and did. Then the smart old ladies started to make deals with the strongest young men to work together on their combined plots with the young men doing the lifting and the old ladies planting. Those ended up being the most successful plots – this was shared as a story of communism evolving. I think Adam Smith called it something else.
On departure flight – AirAsia said too big for carryon backpack but not enough connection time to check. And not allowed to change to later flight. Suggested I unload 50% and left it behind, I said I will buy another seat so I have double the carryon allowance (my whole row empty) – they didn’t get it and let me carryon. But start of minor issues on the bgt travel.