Review: Boutique Hotel, Hanoi

This is a good one. I stayed here for two nights by myself and then once J-e came we stayed for a couple more nights. We had a room with no balcony, overlooking the back and that was $20 a night as a single, or $25 a night with two people. The room was of an okay size, had good air-conditioning and the water probably would’ve ran hot if I’d waited a bit longer. We were on the 5th floor so it may take a while to get up there, plus in August, there’s really no need for hot water.

There was a whopping huge flat screen tv in the room with cable channels. The breakfast included was kind of small but quite good. The room was cleaned well and it was surprisingly quiet. Hanoi’s a noisy city, what with all the beeping. There was wireless internet that worked pretty well most of the time. I had a little trouble with reception via the iPod on the 5th floor sometimes, but mostly okay. There’s a couple of PCs in the lobby available to use all the time.

The big thing about this hotel, and this really is a big thing, is that all the staff were friendly and honest. They helped us organize air tickets to Hoi an and a taxi to the airport. There were no hidden extras thrown onto the bill, in fact maybe because we stayed for 4 nights, but they didn’t charge for 3 or 4 drinks we got out of the fridge, and a bunch of calls I made to the g-f. I think I spoke to her on her mobile for an hour one night.

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*The Short:* Highly recommended!

Ps. Make sure you’re getting the right ‘Boutique Hotel’ because apparently a couple of others in the old quarter have painted the same phrase over their entrance. The real on is on Bat Su street.

Review: Greenfield Hotel, Hoi an

Here is another point that the wikitravel website let me down with. It said the Greenfield hotel was good but it’s not. Basically, it’s dilapidated and the staff tried to overcharge when we were checking out. Their website is highly ‘creative’ with they way they portray the hotel. The breakfast was abominable and I think one of the cleaners played with my iPod when I was out.

In their favour, they do seem to be trying to update the place, and the staff (well some of them) were a little bit friendly if you were friendly to them first. They kind of reminded me of maltreated children; their first reaction when they saw you coming was that you were going to yell at the complaining about something. I guess they get that a lot.

After I’d been there a couple of days I read <a href=””>this</a> and it’s about 90/10 bad reviews.

A couple of other things to mention are that there was no hot water and the tiles in the room we were in were loose so once water got under them, and you stood on them, like to go to the toilet for a pee, they’d make a squelching sound. I kind of dug it but I think, overwhelmingly, other people wouldn’t. The air-con (a must in August) was noisy and rather ineffective. Also my girlfriend almost drowned in the swimming pool but that’s mostly because she’s got a big head.

*The Short:* Avoid!  I heard good things about Nhi-Nhi hotel.

Vietnam holiday in fotos part 1

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Uncle Ho says, “Reach out and touch someone”.

This could be long an painful like some relative’s slide show so I’ll spread it out over several days.

I was nastily surprised when the plane landed at Hong kong, since I thought it was going straight to bangkok and that I’d be transferring only once. I had to transfer twice for a flight that going direct only takes four hours. Thanks for letting me know, shoestring travel of Seoul, hongdae. Good job.

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A lot of Korean girls got off for Honkers. A good shopping destination. I wouldn’t mind checking it out sometime.

Bangkok airport. Airports are big places that are sometimes busy but most of the time not.

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This was the first time I travelled without taking a Lonely Planet book. I used the info from the <a href=””>wikitravel</a> website, which was occasionally useful but basically just as inaccurate as the perpetually out-of-date Lonely Planet books.

Wikitravel said it was 20thou dongs to go to the Mil.Hist museum, correct – but it costs another 20 if you want to use a camera, not 5 as they say.

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They made a monument out of shit they’d blown out of the sky. The photo used as the centrepiece seems to be an iconic favourite. It’s of a girl dragging a peice of US jet home along the beach.

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The overt militarism would be out of place and easy to criticise in most other places but in Vietnam it’s just part of the scene. For some reason it reminded me of how its okay for black people to call eachother nigger, but not okay for anyone else to call them that.

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Lots of propaganda posters. I liked the colours in this one.

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Was it worth going to the the military history museum? Yeah. It was okay. As they say, the victors write the history and the message from the place is very much that the Vietnamese people have kicked out anyone who’s attempted to take over the joint.

*   *   *

The only American chain restaurant I saw in the whole of Hanoi was one low-profile looking KFC. Maybe this one got the nod because Col. Sanders bears something of a resemblance to Uncle Ho.

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*Also see <a href=””>Vietnam holiday fotos part 2</a>*.

Holiday on Jang ja-do (장자도)

and Seon yu-do 선유도.
The young lady and I had a chance to get away for a couple of days so headed for the west coast of the peninsula. Incheon was as far as I’d got to that side. From the US air-force base town of Gunsan, it was an hour and a half passenger-ferry ride to Jang ja.

It was sunny weather on the way there but a bit rocky on the boat. It seems the boat pilots in this country are of a similar ilk to the taxi (and little green bus) drivers, for there was quarter given. One young lad sicked up a bit, Je got dizzy and even I with my iron bowels felt a tad queasy.

Got there we did though, checked into the really nice little min bak  (cross between motel/cabin kind of thing) and then walked around a bit.

It’s really unscrewed up there – very little trash, trashyness, neon, cars or CLR!DE shops. In fact I would go so far as to say it was the nicest place I’ve been to in Korea. Bikes can be rented for 3000 won an hour. Some of the min baks have electric golf carts, and there are a few cars but not many. There’s not a lot to do there as far as organised activities go, but that’s fine by me. It’s probably this, along with the ferry ride that have kept the island from becoming trashed-out and overloaded with obnoxious Seoulites.

I guess it’s all pretty shallow there because there was a big difference between high and low tide. Low tide presented a lot of mud on the beaches. (But no Sneetches on those beaches.) The shallowness makes for relaxed swimming though, compared to the East sea, where it’s more like jumping straight into the Arctic ocean.

It’s a good idea to bring a whole load of food with you. Min baks have a small gas cooker and the place we stayed at had a communal BBQ thing outside aswell. Bring meat and whatever else. We didn’t bring much so ended up going to the restaurants there a fair bit. Some of them are quite nice, and you can get quite a bit of food for the money — but the prices are fairly expensive. After a couple of days you’re going to be craving something other than seafood.

The morning we left it was raining and the ocean was a bit choppy. When the boat pulled in and even the boarding was heiry I thought we’d be in fr a breakfast-refunding kind of jaunt but I guess they’d added water-ballast to the boat because it was smoother than the journey there.

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