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Vietnam – Hanoi / Ha Long Bay

(July 18, 2015 – July 22, 2015)

Day 1.

I arrived in Hanoi and grabbed a cab to my hotel, “Hanoi Royal Palace Hotel 2”. I was welcomed to a comfortable hotel room and I dropped off my luggage before heading out to see what Hanoi had to offer.

The streets were super intimidating especially crossing the streets. It was very different from where I had been just days before in Siem Reap. But I would eventually learn to just walk and the motorcycles and cars will go around me. But it did take some time and I would still try to find a less busier part of the street before actually crossing.

While walking I got my first taste of getting hustled. Unfortunately, this would leave a bitter taste in my mouth for the rest of my stay in Vietnam. I was hungry and so I wanted some place to eat. Then a lady with some baked goods approached me. This happened several times while I was walking but with different vendors. But finally I decided to try some local donuts from this lady from the street. She offered me one and it was good and while I was eating she was stuffing a bag full of them. It was such a quick exchange that I was left in a semi-whirlwind of “what just happened?”

I really didn’t want any nor did I want the 10 or so she was stuffing into a brown paper bag. They were like donut holes with sugar on top. I kept insisting ‘no thanks” but she kept pushing it on me, so I agreed. She gave me a price of like 250,000 Dong and in my head I thought that was too much. So I believe I asked for 200,000 Dong thinking that equated to about $2.00. But boy was I wrong. Since it was such a fast exchange and I wasn’t completely calculating nor did I know the exact currency exchange rate, the 200,000 Dong was actually about $8-$10. So I got that $8 – $10 of donuts. When I got back to the hotel and figured out how much I spent, I was irked. Then I tasted the donuts, they were stale!! The first one she offered me, the free one, was good. Probably made today while the ones in the bag were probably made days ago! Not only did I pay hefty price for donut holes, they were stale! UGH! Thanks Vietnam for the welcoming lesson. And so that was my first impression of Vietnam.

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Hanoi Royal Palace Hotel 2

Hoan Kiem Lake