I am so dreading to finish up this last post of our trip because I have been ranting to different groups of friends about this trip that I am tired of repeating…hahaha! But for the sake of memories, here is the last part of our suay stories~
29 August 2014
Got woken up super early by the damn sun because there was no curtain in the room! Zzzzz. I thought I could have a good sleep with the church chimes away from us now but who knows x.x
Spent the remaining morning checking out the hotels nearby because the girls didn’t wanna stay at Splendid Jupiter for another night~ We even almost stayed at a haunted hotel!
What happened was most of the hotels around us are fully booked, yet this particular one has got many rooms available. I got kinda skeptical so I raised out to Yinning and it turned out that there was indeed a review saying the hotel is haunted, but because all other reviews were good, she decided to ignore it.
After checking out that “haunted” hotel, we all got skeptical as well because the hotel really seemed pretty empty! I mean the rooms were nice, but after that review, the oriental theme also made the place looked a bit eerie =X
Checked out another hotel – Impressive Hotel and the rooms were okay for us~ But after booking 2 rooms, we realised that the other room that was given to us consists of 2 single beds instead of the same double-bed room that was shown to us earlier on…Zzzzz. Well anyway, beggar can’t be chooser, so here is our room for our THIRD hotel in Hanoi (after joining the 2 beds together)~
Finally nua-ed enough and started our day! Part of the reason why we were so nua for this trip is also because we really didn’t know where to go with the addition of another 2 days in Hanoi (due to cancellation of our cruise).
Went for massage in the end since we missed it on our second night~ And because we wanted full body massage, we requested for all female masseurs, since we were informed that we gotta remove our top and even bra for the massage. Yet when we were about to go in, the staff actually asked if we are okay to have 2 male masseurs. We were horrified and shouted, “Noooooo!!!” at the same time and they somehow managed to make arrangement for 6 females.
During the massage, I kept turning to make sure that my masseur wasn’t changed halfway or something. Felt damn uneasy! I can’t believe they would even suggest having male masseurs massaging us when the massage is done on our bare back and it’s not like we have anything to cover the front either! -_-”
Anyway, it wasn’t the best 90 minutes massage we had, but good enough for the price. Time for shopping now~!
We really dread walking on the streets of the Old Quarters anymore – not because we cannot adapt to undeveloped countries and all, but it’s more of the people and traffic! Felt like we gonna die anytime on the street either by being robbed and raped or knocked down by a bike or car! Just felt sooooo uneasy and unsafe walking around there! And it’s not like the police gonna help if anything happens to us.
So Yinning actually did some research and found a shopping mall with big supermarket! 😀 Ahhhhh supermarket~ My best friend!!! We were all so excited to get away from the “rural area” and breathe some civilisation!
Nothing much in the mall so we headed straight to our main destination – the Big C supermarket!!! It was the place that we spent the most money because we hardly bought anything in the Old Quarters area! There is just nothing to buy there -_-”
Shopped so much that we had to run to the bank to change some Vietnamese Dong because the supermarket doesn’t accept USD! And my basket is none other than the one filled to the brim…hehehe! Even bought 2 Vietnamese mooncakes back to try!
Chilled for quite a while at a coffee place where the girls had their Vietnamese coffee before heading back to our hotel~ Our plan was to visit the police station again to collect our report, so before going, we actually asked the hotel staff (the one from our new hotel) to help us call the station to check if the report is ready.
But somehow after the call, the staff told us that she couldn’t help us and we were all puzzled as to what’s so difficult in checking the status of the report. It seemed like a yes or no thing to us yet she looked very 为难 to help us. We kept pushing her to help us because we were afraid we couldn’t communicate with the English-illiterate police again, until she finally agreed to go to the station with us instead.
When we reached the station, we realised that it’s not that she’s reluctant to help us, but it was the officer that is reluctant to help us, hence she really couldn’t do anything! It was a different officer from our first visit and this old man just refused to help us no matter how long the hotel staff pleaded for us.
We did not know what’s going on at first because we couldn’t understand their language, but the officer just kept chasing us off with hand signals and yelling at the poor hotel staff till her eyes were kinda red! So she just kept apologising to us saying that she can’t help us.
The girls were confused and continued to explain that the other officer had already taken the statement and told us to come back to collect the report, yet the stupid man just continued barking at the poor staff the more she tried to explain and help us. And he just refused to move an inch or make a single call to check about the report!!! Instead, he started watching his television while all 7 pairs of eyes were staring at him, waiting for the report!
Then he started making hand signal and saying something like he hasn’t had his dinner yet and wants to eat, obviously hinting us to “buy him a meal“. We did not do so of course, so he asked the hotel staff where we are from and when he knew that we’re from Singapore, he gave that dirty “Oh~ Rich brats” look, looking at us from head to toe.
In the end, we were told to come back again after his shift because he just kept insisting that it’s none of his business! Zzzzzzz!!! So that was the suay thing for our night and I felt damn bad towards the poor hotel staff, so I told the girls to let the matter rest and just come back later.
While walking back to our hotel, the staff looked very much upset by what happened that she started ranting to me about the police there.
Staff: This is what I hate about the police here! They will not help you unless you give them money.
Me: Oh so he refused to help us just now because he wanted us to give him money???
Staff: Yes! That’s why we seldom go to the police station for help… Because of them, Vietnam cannot develop!
Me: *silent as I felt her yearn for a better Vietnam*
Staff: Are the police in Singapore like that too?
Me: No… In Singapore, every thing we call the police.
Staff: Yes, I think in Singapore, the police protect and take care of you all. But over here, we take care of the police. If we want them to help us, we need to pay them. So only the rich people go to the police…
It felt really gek sim hearing what she says and that’s when I realised how much we had been taking the safety and the police in our country for granted. I had always thought that the progress of a country is very much due to the reluctance in accepting changes in the people’s simple daily lives, but the fact is there are some who very much want to change how lives are, just that it’s not within their control.
Well anyhow, while waiting to go back to the station for the third damn time, the girls decided to grab some spring rolls since we had not have dinner yet. I wasn’t in a mood for oily food, so I decided to check out this cafe that we had passed by several times because it’s pretty near our hotel and I had been wanting to visit.
The cafe – The Met kind of stood out on the street because Old Quarters is full of street stalls and all, so it’s quite eye-catching to suddenly see a modern cafe there selling cakes and macarons! As much as I love street food, I would really rather chill at this cafe than to walk any further on their streets.
Finally went back to the police station again – this time, on our own because we felt bad to trouble the staff again. We only asked her to help us book a cab because even though it’s not very far, we just don’t feel safe walking on their streets so we wanna avoid that as much as possible.
After dropping us at the police station, the cab driver reluctantly agreed to wait 5 minutes for us to collect the report, but he left after less than 3 minutes! Zzzzzz! Really can’t trust all the people there, except for the really nice hotel staff. It seemed as though they are the only good people, plus the tour guides we met during the trip.
Well anyway, the useless officer had indeed knocked off and a much younger one had taken over. We passed him the note that the hotel staff had very kindly helped us written in Vietnamese earlier on to aid us in explaining the story to the police.
After reading, the nice young officer took a paper and started writing his questions to us in English. We replied to him in the same written form and so the whole conversation was a silent one – just via Q&A on that piece of paper. Well at least even though he can’t speak English, he can still write in proper English and most importantly, would bother to do something!
He asked if we can come back to collect the next day morning but we explained that we are leaving for a 1-day trip. So in the end, he said we can come back after our trip and collect from these 2 particular officers. Really so grateful to him and thankful that we finally met a nice police officer!!! Although we still did not manage to get the report after 3 visits, at least we could feel things getting settled instead of being shoved off without an answer.
Halfway through the Q&A, there was actually another old officer that stepped in and he also looked rather friendly, but also over-friendly. He was obviously drunk, from his red and overly-smiley face, and when he saw us, he happily signaled for us to sit down and wait. Then he sat right opposite us staring at us, happily smiling to us, as though he had never seen 6 girls together at the same time before.
It definitely crept me out and for a moment, I couldn’t figure out having a fierce officer handling your case is better or having that one opposite you that looked like he’s gonna eat you up anytime is better. Thank goodness everything was settled pretty soon and we left the station empty-handed, but with an idea of what to do next.
As it was already past 11pm, we couldn’t find cabs anywhere, so we decided to walk back with the help of Google map. Most of the shops were closed by then so the streets weren’t that bright, and there were still people drinking on the streets, youngsters gathering and creating a din.
As much as we felt unsafe walking on the poorly-lit streets and couldn’t wait to get back as soon as possible, we couldn’t remember the way very well and had to keep taking out our phones to check the map, which is also dangerous!!! So imagine how unsafe and uneasy we felt. It was really quite a disturbing walk back that I wouldn’t wanna do it a second time. Thank god we managed to get back safely eventually after losing our way for a while.
30 August 2014
So as we really didn’t wanna stay in Hanoi for so many days, our hardworking organiser – Yinning had researched for some day trips that we could consider and we settled on a 1-day trip to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc eventually! As long as we can get out of Hanoi, I am fine with anything! (:
Woke up super early for the trip because it takes like 2 hours to reach Hoa Lu from Hanoi. Managed to catch a little bit of sleep before we finally arrived at Hoa Lu, which is also former capital of Vietnam!
But once we got off the bus, we were surrounded by a group of Vietnamese aunties selling their traditional hats – Nón lá! I was rather overwhelmed when they started putting the hats on our heads and asking for money, and when we removed and returned to them, they would just keep putting it back on your head!!!
I felt kinda irritated by their acts that I had to really keep RUNNING off to avoid them! I had the hat put on my head for at least like 3-4 times and I swear that if I continued standing there, they could just put like another 20 times on my head and I was really, really damn annoyed by it already!!!
To me, the more you force me to buy something, the more I won’t wanna get it! When someone kindly rejects you and has already said no to you several times, you don’t keep trying to force people physically this way! I mean I know they are just trying to earn a living, but not at the expense of people’s happiness right?
And even after 3 of them bought the hats from them, they continued to chase and pester the other 3 of us to buy! HOW ANNOYINGGGGGGGGG!!! Yea so it wasn’t a good start for me and that definitely worsened my impression of the people there.
But that was not it. As in the hat nightmare was not completely over.
We got the tour guide to help us take the above group shots and guess what? This Vietnamese auntie suddenly took out her DSLR and snapped a picture of us as well, even though we refused to look into her camera. And next thing we know, she had printed out 6 copies of the picture for us and started chasing after us to buy!
She really followed us almost throughout the temples tour, stood by the side as the tour guide was explaining to us the history, then started “attacking” us with her aggressive sales once we were moving off to another place! It’s damn freaky! Like you thought she’s gone for good, but once you stepped out of the temple, she would suddenly pop out again to ask you to buy her pictures!!! I was really like, “Whutttttttt?! She’s still here?!?!”
Then again, the girls took pity on her and bought 1 copy, but she continued to pester us to buy the remaining 5! Why would we need 5 copies of the same picture when we are not even looking into the camera and we already have our own group shot?! No one asked you to take in the first place, let alone printing them out, so why pester and annoy us instead of letting us enjoy the trip!!! Arghhhhh!
The tour guide did not help us because I think he is pretty much used to it. In fact, he did warn us about these vendors selling stuff when we were in the bus, but he did not mention that it would be so aggressive. He said we could just say no, thank you to them if we don’t want, but it doesn’t seem like it now >.>
Anyhow, off to visit our first temple – Temple of Đinh Tiên Hoàng. Đinh Tiên Hoàng was the first emperor of Vietnam and the temple was to honour him. We visited the temple of the second emperor as well – Temple of Lê Đại Hành and the tour guide told us the interesting stories of these 2 kings.
Did not take any pictures inside because I was lazy plus I don’t know if it’s okay to take pictures in a temple, even though it’s allowed. But I did take some shots outside!
After lunch was sampan ride to visit the 3 caves! That is also what Tam Coc means – 3 caves! We were looking forward to it since we missed our kayak at Halong Bay so a sampan ride may be able to make up for it…hahaha!
I did try to row the sampan and OMG~ It’s damn tiring! But very good exercise for the arms!
The cave is like pitch dark so no pictures of the interior. Headed to our second cave but just when Yinning and I were enjoying the scenery on the way and saying our trip has finally taken a turn for the better, it started pouring all of a sudden!!!
Despite having an umbrella, shared with Yinning, we were so drenched from head to toes! It’s the kind of drenched that you can feel the weight of the rain water soaked in your clothes as you walk. But the funny thing was, I actually kinda recovered from my flu (though developed a cough instead) after that rain…haha!
Looked super 狼狈 after that and also did not take any pictures because of the rain. That marked the daily “suay” incident for our 5th day x.x
After passing by the third cave, we gotta make a U-turn to go all the way back again. But because all the sampans were making the U-turn there, many boats were stuck there for a while and there would be vendors selling food and drinks to you.
They would even ask you to buy for your sampan rowers but we didn’t because we were already informed by the tour guide that we need to tip the rowers 2 USD each. We were still lucky because we managed to get off easily, but not the case for 2 of our mates.
I was disgusted even more after hearing their stories of how their rowers actually ganged up with the vendor to FORCE them into buying the food and drink for them by refusing to make the U-turn and the vendor was also holding on to their sampan, refusing to let them leave!
They had not choice but ended up buying 1 biscuit and 1 drink for their 2 rowers, because if not they wouldn’t wanna move the boat, but the biscuit was soon gone without being eaten (obviously returned to the vendor) and the rowers also refused to open up the drink to drink! It was obviously a ganged up scam with the vendor to cheat their money on top of the tips! So so so disgusting!!!
It was so hot that Yinning and I couldn’t wait to get back. So we took turns to row the sampan since our female rower stopped rowing after a while at the start of our ride, so it was only left with her husband rowing. I swear we used up so much arm strength, overtaking so many sampans before we finally reached the shore, as the first! 😀
Next up was cycling! I was quite looking forward to it because usually my trips are shopping and sight-seeing, but trying out leisure activities in a foreign country can be quite fun too! Well…at least not until I realised that we are actually gonna cycle in the village instead of a park!
I totally freaked out when cars and bikes kept zoom-ing past me and I swear for the first 3 minutes, I wanted to cry lor! Firstly, I’m not so used to the bike because I always choose the same model bike in ECP. Secondly, the only time I had really cycled out of the park was on pavements and not on the road with cars!!!
I lost control so many times whenever I see a vehicle that I had to keep stopping because I only feel safe to cycle when the road is cleared. And I kept saying I don’t wanna cycle anymore and if I can just wait for them somewhere because it’s really damn scary cycling on the road!
But all of them were so far ahead and I was the only one left behind, so I had no choice but to keep catching up. Thank goodness there were less cars further up and I was also getting hold of the bike. Managed to catch up with them and enjoyed the session~! 😀
Oh but it started pouring AGAIN halfway and we were drenched for the second time! Zzzzz. So we didn’t make it till the end but quickly U-turned back instead. Cycled super fast because the road was cleared, until I was blocked by a group of cows on the road…faint~!!! And I thought vehicles were my only threat -_-”
Made our way back and because we needed to go to the police station in time to collect the report, we told the driver to increase his speed because he was driving at 30km/hr throughout the day! But we were told instead that if he wanna increase speed, he gotta take the expressway and we gotta pay around 10 USD for their “ERP“!
I was skeptical initially, sorry but after all the scam and dishonest acts of the people here, I find it hard to trust. But in the end, it was true that the toll is that expensive (we saw the board)! There was hardly any other cars using that expressway simply because 10 USD is obviously a big amount to them, yet they built this “expressway” not so that it would make life easier for the citizens, but to earn the ridiculous toll! Zzzzz!
Anyhow, since there were no cars, he could really speed and shortened our travelling time. But when we hit the busier roads again, which was already close to night time (plus it was raining again), Yinning actually witnessed a bike accident right in front of us!
I didn’t see it because I was trying to sleep, but she saw how the motorcyclist was knocked off by a car and he “flew” a little up off his bike before landing on the ground. Thank goodness he wasn’t going on a high speed, so it was not those epic accident. But he was still agonising on the ground while holding on to his leg, and no one actually stopped to help him, everyone just drove past him 😦
Back to Hanoi and the tour guide was nice enough to accompany us to the police station to be our body guard cum translator…hahaha! It was the same nice young police officer there and he still remembers us, so he went to take the report without us saying and everything was done in a minute! Despite being our FOURTH visit to the police station, this was the fastest one, and we finally, finally got the report!!! (:
Moved back to Splendid Stars Hotel as planned originally, because we were also supposed to come back here after our 3D2N in Halong Bay~ After trying so many hotels in Old Quarters, we still love Splendid Stars the most!!! So good to be back with our big 6 pax room!
Since it was our last night of the trip (finally~), we decided to use up our money and treat ourselves a good meal to make up for the shitty stuff that happened every day during this trip! Haha! But before that, we took our last chance to take some shots with the nice pregnant hotel staff that accompanied us to the police station for the first time and whom we had also became friend with! 😀
Oh then there was also this super duper shy male staff there that is always smiling and nodding to us politely and shyly every time we requested him for something (e.g. extra pillow, fruit juice order and etc). Then he would quickly “run away” from our room as though we might drag him in and eat him up! LOLOL.
Yea so when he came to deliver our blanket and left shyly as usual, I made a casual comment to the girls that he’s really shy and that is somehow cute. Because of that, the 5 of them ganged up to start matchmaking us!!! FAINT!!!!!!!!!!
It turned really awkward in the end when even Hannah knew about it and kept trying to pull strings for us! And that also became the best entertainment for the night because the girls couldn’t stop talking about it and fantasizing about what could happen between us -___________-|||
So after requesting a picture with Hannah, we also requested one with the shy boy (that was before Hannah knows about the gossip -.-“) and he was really shyyyyyy that he kept refusing! Hannah said it’s because there are 6 of us – all girls and he’s the only guy! Hahahahahaha!
After much persuasion, he finally gave in and the girls went crazy, insisting that he should sit beside me! So he awkwardly squeezed into the seat where Hannah was sitting and because it was kinda squeezy, he didn’t know where to place his hands and he was just all awkward and shy!!! Kinda funny~
Then all of a sudden at the count of 3, 2, 1, he just suddenly pluck up all his courage and decided to put both his arms around CY and I! Yea he totally doesn’t look like he’s shy here, but you should see how he scurried off from us in less than a second super shyly right after the pictures!!! ROFL. It was so so so hilarious that we all burst out laughing!
Wanted to check out their night market which is only available on the weekends but after seeing the crowd, we dropped the idea. I think we weren’t that enthusiastic about visiting anymore after the first 2 nights anyway =/
Had a hard time getting a cab though, because many roads were blocked due to the night market. I was so reluctant to walk all the way back even though it’s not that far, because it was really, really crowded and I can sense all the pickpockets awaiting!
In the end, I tried my luck by going into a random hotel and asked the staff for help to call a cab. Viola~ They were nice enough to help us! Hotel staffs are always the nicest ((:
Finally got our cab but who knows when we were nearing our hotel, the road was very much congested that we were stuck for a long time at the same road! The driver was getting frustrated as well and we were feeling bad for wasting his time as well, so eventually he asked if we wanna just walk back and we agreed.
It was quite crazy because imagine the usual traffic is already crazy enough but on this day, it was like 3 times worse. Cars were hardly moving but yet bikes were busy squeezing their ways through, not giving us any chance to cross at all! Then at the same time, we have to be careful not to be too close to any bikes in case our bags are snatched…Zzzzz.
Finally made our way back and the initial idea was to chill at the same nice cafe aka our favourite place now, but it was getting late and I was also quite disturbed by the crowd just now and how we walked back the previous night, so I suggested dabao-ing instead~ The girls were sharing my sentiment so we were soon back to our comfy room with our desserts! 😀
But because I wanted to eat scrambled eggs as well, I requested for some scrambled eggs for my noodle but who knows they decided to just make me the whole scrambled egg breakfast set!!! So I had 2 sets of breakfast in the end but I couldn’t finish of course x.x
Had some time to kill before our flight in the noon so we decided to go for a foot massage first~ This time round I got a male masseur but since it’s just the feet, I didn’t mind so much. Somehow he was very much interested in my dead skins / peeling skins from all my blisters that he kept removing them for me while massaging -___-”
Went back to our hotel to wait for the transport to pick us up to the airport and I decided to try my luck to find back my bee ring that I had left in one of the hotels we moved to~ Tried asking at Splendid Jupiter and taduh~ It was indeed there!!! Hehe! Luckily I went back to ask about it!!! 😀
Reached the airport pretty early because given our suay-ness, I wanted avoid all the risk of missing our flight and having to stay in this place for another day! Haha! Got our hand-written boarding passes~
And that more or less summed up our unfortunate yet adventurous Vietnam trip! Adventurous because we actually survived, given the traffic, the safety, the police and all. I wouldn’t say it’s a real bad trip, because Vietnam has been a place that I wanna visit for quite some time, just that after this experience, it may not be soon before I revisit again~ Haha!
It’s still all experience and memories, so no regrets! Most importantly, I had made 5 new friends (including Hannah) through this trip and they really made this trip so much better! All the adventure, crazy moments and laughter that we shared – they will be remembered ((: