Saturday, March 10, 2007 Thailand Thailand / Vietnam Vietnam

Flight to Hanoi

Suvarnabhumi Airport [Enlarge]

The Air Asia flight from Bangkok to Hà Nội (Hanoi) was clean, comfortable and on time. Air Asia is a proper budget carrier like RyanAir and EasyJet in the UK (except it has good customer service). It doesn't do allocated seating, but we managed to get a seat with extra legroom in the exit row, so the passenger scrum actually worked to our advantage.

We discovered that northern Vietnam on a March evening is a little chilly. It felt even more so because we were coming from the heat and humidity of Bangkok. Leaving the airport, we dodged the taxi touts and soon found our man holding a board with Glenn's name on it (the airport is about 35 kilometres from the city centre so we had booked the hotel's transfer service to avoid any taxi-related issues). The guy led us to his car and we set off onto the expressway. We had switched back to driving on the right again—Thailand is the only country in South East Asia which drives on the left. The landscape outside was pretty much the standard fare of flat paddy fields and tiny shack-like houses, but surrounding them were huge advertising boards with laser displays and lights. It seemed that nobody in Hà Nội owns a car, as 99 percent of vehicles buzzing around us were motorbikes or mopeds, all of which had at least two people on board, sometimes four or five. It was pretty weird.

As we neared Hà Nội proper we saw the first few French-style houses: very tall (five or six stories) but with an amazingly narrow frontage and lots of balconies. They looked like they should have been part of a terrace, but that their neighbours had been demolished to leave them standing isolated. We learned later that narrow houses are common here because of an old tax which was based on the width of the front of the building. A bit like the window tax back home which caused so many windows in Georgian houses to be bricked up.

Hanoi Elegance Hotel [Enlarge]

We had booked our room at the Hanoi Elegance Hotel on Hostelworld. It is located in the heart of the Old Town, and turned out to be very clean and welcoming, although most rooms (including ours) do not have windows. We dumped our bags and headed out for a late dinner. On the hotel's recommendation we tried Little Hanoi a few blocks away, which is a backpacker-friendly place with a good line in Vietnamese dishes for beginners, mostly based on noodles. We chose the chicken noodles, which came with loads of stir-fried vegetables and a pair of chopsticks, and were delicious. Back in the room we had a very long, very good sleep (probably because it didn't get light in the morning in our windowless room) and we woke up too late to get any breakfast.

Map of Day 105

Day 105
Bangkok to Hanoi

This map shows the route we took in this post. Click it to see larger maps of our whole route at flickr.

Maps are taken from the CIA World Factbook.

1 Comment:

Jimmy K. said...

hummm, what is a passenger scrum?
What the heck is a window tax?
Jimmy in Texas