A radio interview in the middle of the night in a sleeper bus, strolling through Hanoi to find a hostel at 3am and the crew arrived to leave a path of destruction through Vietnam! Here’s this week’s Travel Short:

In Sa Pa I had booked a bus ticket back to Hanoi. I took the night bus and it already started out pretty interesting…Arriving at the office of the bus company they told me that I had to go to a different office and that the bus would wait there. One of the guys from the office took me to the other office where I got a new bus ticket and a new name!? I guess it was a Vietnamese hustle and I ended up with a different bus company and my new name Victoria. Anyway it was headed to Hanoi and that’s where I head to go to.
It was difficult to get to sleep but I managed to get at least two hours of rest. Around 1:30am Robbert and Michèle of Sleutelstad FM called me for a radio interview for my travel stories, where I was, where am I headed and when I will return home. You can listen to the interview here.

After my interview it was hard to get back to sleep and around 3am we arrived to Hanoi. But instead of staying in the bus until 6am, like the Hanoi-Sa Pa bus, we had to get out of the bus and that was it!… That was unexpected… I ended up walking with two Spanish girls in search of a place to sleep. We were strolling around the Old Quarters for about 45 minutes being rejected at several places claiming to be “fully booked” but finally we found a hostel where we could sleep in the lobby for the time being. So for the first time during my trip I slept in a random hostel lobby on an improvised bed made of chairs… A new experience so to say.

Midnight stroll through Hanoi

After a short night I went to the hostel I booked for that night and could freshen up a bit. Later that day I met up with Laura (from the 21km Sa Pa hike) n her last day in Vietnam. We had some food and coffee and walked around the city before she had to go fix the last of here baggage and then off to the airport. I also felt like going back to my hostel because I still had the cold I got in Sa Pa…
I have to say that is quite a tough cold and it continued the next days so I was just hanging around the hostel and only went out to get food and a haircut (at a barber shop with origins in Rotterdam, the Netherlands).

Hanoi traffic…

On one of my walks through the city I came across a school where the lessons just stopped and the kids got picked up by their parents. It was quite the sight with motorbikes, parents and kids basically everywhere! I also wanted to do some photo editing and found a nice quiet setting in a nearby co-working space where I almost had the office to me alone including the nice chairs and big desk.

Kids getting picked up by their parents.

In the weekends some streets in the city center get closed off to host a night market and there are musical performances all around.

Street performance.

We’ve been talking about it for months and finally on Sunday Timothy, Elin and Viktoria arrived to Hanoi. Our trip (or path of destruction as Timothy called it) in Vietnam has kicked off! From my hostel in the Old Quarters I walked to the hotel we booked for our stay in Hanoi. It was actually drizzling a bit and I was waiting in a chair in front of the hotel and then the taxi arrived. Tim, Elin and Viktoria stepped out and it was so good to see some familiar faces (or familiar from ‘messenger’ pictures :P). After 8,5 months it felt like a small reunion; but there was no time to relax…the rooms weren’t ready so soon after arrival we went out for lunch. From the calm and regulated traffic in Europe to the busy, seemingly, chaotic traffic in Hanoi…No time to get used to it and straight into it I took the group to a nearby “pho bo” (noodle soup) restaurant and to the coffee place where I have been many many times! In the Netherlands it’s the time of the Sinterklaas feast and Sinterklaas also happened to drop by Hanoi with a load of ‘kruidnoten’ and a chocolate letter. There are few things better than a rooftop sunset with friends, kruidnoten and card games.

After a good night’s rest and breakfast it was time to walk around Hanoi. We started in the Old Quarters and found a railway passage through the city right next to all the houses. With surviving the occasional street crossing we made it to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum…only thing was…it was closed. From the mausoleum we went to a big lake nearby and there we settled down for spring rolls and a drink and were enjoying the setting for some hours. Before we got stuck in one place we went back to our hotel – with a small detour to get a nice Bánh Mì (Vietnamese style sandwich) – and prepared for a nice dinner later that evening.

The second stop of our trip together is Mai Chau, a small village in a mountainous region with some spectacular views. In four hours the bus brought us from Hanoi to our hotel in Mai Chau. We checked into our really nice rooms, had lunch (with spring rolls of course) and jumped in the – very refreshing – pool. Time to relax!

In the next couple of days we will see more of Mai Chau and head back to Hanoi for the weekend. Then from Hanoi we’ll make our way to Cat Ba to enjoy the island life!