Today’s been one of the most productive days of the whole trip:
Got up early, had pho for breakfast at a smart joint nearby, then headed off for some serious walking around the southern part of town. Visited the Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution, the crazy market area of the French Quarter (long lanes less than a metre wide – and they still take their scooters down them in both directions), Lenin Park, and several rather drab lakes. Lunch at a restaurant-school that trains disadvantaged kids in various hospitality skills to a very high standard. Visiting a great English-language bookshop to stock up on reading matter while I can – I’ve learnt that outside the big cities finding books is near impossible, and you certainly need some to fill in the long hours! In case you’re interested the “to read” pile now contains:
The Floating Book by Michelle Lovric
Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
One Foot in Laos by Dervla Murphy
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Blind Willow, Sleeping Beauty by Haruki Murakami
(I’ve started immediately on the Larsson book, Stan!)
Then taxi back to the hotel to disgorge my goodies, to a specialist travel agent to book a tour, back to the hotel to book a flight to Vientiane for next week, then an indifferent but cheap massage, a fine Italian dinner, and now back to the room to blog and pack.
The tour I’ve booked starts tomorrow and offers touring and kayaking on Halong Bay, followed by two days of kayaking, swimming, trekking and mountain biking around Cat Ba Island. And staying two nights in a simple bungalow on a private island, so there’ll be plenty of relaxation too… it’s very rustic so I’ll be off the grid for a few days. Yes, life is indeed hard for some.