Vietnam

I flew from Cambodia to Hanoi, Vietnam since I was running low on time.  It was surprising how different Vietnam was right at first sight.  You can see the French influence in the architecture immediately.

Best currency yet!

The Vietnamese Dong is my favorite currency so far. No, it is not because of the name. It’s awesome because:

1. It’s see-through in places.
2. It makes you feel rich.

The first time I went to an ATM in Vietnam I needed three days worth of money. That equals three million Dong. It was the weirdest thing entering six zeros behind the amount I needed and not having it declined.

Hanoi is crazy hectic.  It’s another level up from Thailand, even Bangkok.  There are six lanes of traffic with scooters shoulder to shoulder that stop for no one.  You just walk steadily and predictably across the street and pray that they will see you coming.  The scooters park on the sidewalk and makeshift restaurants are set up on the sidewalk so you really don’t have anywhere to walk.  I also felt like the scammers were out in more force here.  It’s a lot of noise and movement and life all at the same time, but if you take it in stride, it’s a pretty cool energy to be in the midst of.

I spent three mornings in Hanoi trying to get my visa to go to China.  I finally did on the third day and I also met this guy who is apparently a bit of celebrity and was also struggling with the Chinese Embassy.

My trip to Halong Bay is one of the highlights of Southeast Asia for me.  It’s just such a unique landscape and space in the world.  I loved all the beautiful boats with their sails unfurling between the rocky islands.  It looks like something out of a fantasy film rather than real life.  Kayaking and swimming along the islands was surreal.