There were a few things we wanted to do and see in Hanoi before leaving and heading to Laos. We crammed them into a few hours the following day and called it good.
– Cyclo Ride. A cyclo is basically a big, backwards tricycle with a carriage just barely wide enough for our two butts. We have seen these all over SE Asia, but hadn’t yet taken one. We decided it was a must-do before leaving Vietnam and we ended up with two rides over the course of the day.
– Hanoi Hilton. A prison used during the American/Vietnam War for American POWs. This is where John McCain was kept, among many other US troops. The prison was orignally used by the French to keep political prisoners (communists) when they ruled Indochina until the 50s. The prison was in use until 1992.
– The Circus. Like no other circus we have been to before, the Hanoi circus was a mix of American Idol, the Oregon State Fair acrobats, and a show you might see at a run down zoo operating illegally. Parts of it were very entertaining, parts were sad (the animal acts where they made bears and monkeys dress up and do stunts), and parts were just odd (the singing in between acts). The kids at the show loved every minute of it, which was part of the entertainment for us.
– Contact Solution. Not necessarily a highlight, but it did take up an hour and a half of our afternoon. It was like a wild goose chase. We went to one store and they wouldn’t have any so we would ask if they knew where we could buy it and they would send us to another store. When we arrived at that store, they wouldn’t have any but they would send us to another store. Five stores later we finally found contact solution–yippee!
We really enjoyed Vietnam and could definitely hope to return in the future, but were not sad to leave Hanoi and the incessant honking and noise pollution that had taken its toll on us. Even at 5:45am when we were climbing into the taxi that would take us to the airport, a bus came by and laid on it’s horn. Not just a friendly “toot, toot”, but an obnoxiously long honk. We were ready for some peace and quiet in Laos. We have been in Laos for two days now and are enjoying a slower pace, the laid back attitude, and not nearly as much honking. Our flight took us into Vientiane where we stopped for a day and then took the bus up to Luang Prabang. We will be in northern Laos for about two weeks.