Same, Same, but different

When I woke up this morning (after a lovely 9am lie-in I may add) I hoped I had over-exaggerated my dislike for Hanoi, due to my annoyacne over lift-gate, toilet roll-gate, and wifi-gate. Alas, this is not the case, I still can’t wait to leave. I am glad that this is the first (and hopefully last) time I have felt like this. I am glad we have a free day here to see the capital, but I am not quite sure what I am actually going to do with it yet. Except see the water puppet show.

Jade and I had woken up with plenty of time to get to breakfast, and had almost no plans for the day. We both wanted to head back to the market to have a quick look, we both had postcards to write and send, and we are all looking for a top that says ‘Same, Same, but Different’. Whenever a group of people travel together, a phrase is coined or associated with the trip, and at the start, I was wondering what it would be. Since then, the phrase same, same, but different has been used everywhere, and has undoubtedly become the slogan for the holiday. A couple of people had spotted tops with it on, and as lots of Hanoi stalls stocked them we made a group decision to all purchase one.

We spoke to Lara at breakfast and concocted a plan of action involving the market, followed by a wifi-enabled café for postcards and internet, a trip to the lake to read (I have started reading Gone Girl) and a quick trip to the post office. In the evening, a plan was already in place for food followed by the water puppet show, followed by a drink with everyone to celebrate our last night in Vietnam. Including Lek.

When we left for the market, the roads were fairly quiet (a complete false sense of security) and very few people hassled us, especially in the market – definitely not like Ho Chi Minh City. We couldn’t really find anything we wanted in there, it was more like a shopping mall for the locals, so we battled with the bikes to see the fruit market, and then pottered around the old streets looking at random shops. It turns out that there are a lot o shops and stalls that sell the same, same but different t-shirts!

We returned to the hotel to collect all the postcards and things we needed for the post office, and bumped into Mairead and the girls in the lift, so decided to follow them. They were visiting an old ‘tube house’ that was used by multiple generations in war-stricken Vietnam. On the way, we finally bought our tops, I got red, some got grey – I feel cover photo potential is in a photo of these t-shirts! We were there slap bang in the middle of the tube house staff lunch, so we popped to a backpakers hostel – the same chain we visited in Hue – and utilised their wifi until had re-opened. It was worth the wait, so interesting to visit!! So small, yet so big, worth the pennies we spent getting there (literally pennies).

Aftwerwards, we had a lovely stroll to the lake, where I sat reading Gone Girl (my latest literary pursuit) and Jade, Patty, and Lara sat writing postcards, and Mairead sat reading hte tourist guide. It was lovely, well, the scenary was, there was a string of increasingly disturbed people who decided to ask us, including but not limited to the one-legged mango and apple seller. Only in Hanoi.

We didn’t quite realise how long we had chilled at the lake, so were surprised when we returned to the hotel and had less than an hour for us both to shower and get ready. That sounds like longer than it felt, honest! We chose a lovely roof top restaurant that over-looked the lake – it felt a bit posh to be honest, not like we’re living the backpacker lifestyle. After the payment debacle that was nothing short of a sham, we went to the water puppet show.

There are many positive words that could be used to describe the water puppet show: Very Vietnamese, very folk, skilled, enjoyable, entertaining. There are also many other words I could use: ridiculous, hilarious, rubbish, what are we watching, insomnia solving. You can probably get the picture. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the perfomance we got. Half the audience were asleep, and the other half were trying to contain hysteria that was bubbling amongst us all. Well no, some people liked it, I was pleased I saw it, it just definitely was not even close to being my cup of tea.

After the puppet show, we all returned to the hotel, had a drink, and went out.  I returned pretty sharpish to speak to people at home and have some time away from the madness. I can’t believe Vietnam has flown by so fast!

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