I spent a few days on my own in Hanoi, which was nice, despite being a bit scared of all the traffic and getting around in general. I really liked the feel of Hanoi, even though all the hustle and bustle was completely opposed to what I had just experienced in Laos. Here is another group email from my time there. Getting a bit sentimental and nostalgic reading these now, feel like I should have a glass of wine in my hand while doing this and not be sitting in my empty office at work… 

“After a few days in Hanoi, i took a boat trip around Halong Bay, which was really pretty, despite being a bit cloudy. It was a bit unsure whether we would be able to go out on the sea as a big storm was forecast. We then took an overnight train down to Hue and arrived to find that the storm had hit there instead-totally flooding our hotel and most of the main part of town! We quickly found a nice hotel on the other side of the river though.  Went on a cyclo tour of the town to get our bearings-it wasn’t as scary as the one in Hanoi, due to less traffic, but it is still a bit nerve wracking to go heading directly into a stream of traffic and hoping that they’ll swerve as you are only being powered by a man at the back pedalling away! (who has a distinct lack of accerlation and ‘swervability’).  Have got so used to the mad traffic now that I took a motorbike tour of Hue the next day!

 This was awesome! We started off going to see how conical hats were made, by this pretty incredible lady who only had one arm (agent orange has affected lot of people in this area). Then we went off road up to a nice view point, and I started to relax and loosen my grip on my poor driver-some of you already know that I’m not a great motorbike passenger at the best of times-but i certainly had to get used to it!

We saw a temple, then an emperor’s tomb, which was really elabourate despite the fact that they actually buried him somewhere else to prevent grave robbing! (the ones who did it had to have their tongues cut out so they they wouldn’t tell anyone) Then we went to a lovely pagoda and ate a vegetarian feast (sitting crosslegged) in these beautiful surroundings where the monks lived. The head monk saw us and asked our local guide if he could talk to us. So through our translator we were given some buddhist advice for life-the main points being-eat vegetarian, do everything in moderation, live for the moment not looking back or forwards, and go for a walk after your meals!  Then he taught us some sitting mediation poses and some techniques which we tried out. What an experience!  After that we went on the bikes into the countryside, which was still flooded. In fact my bike conked out and we had to wade through deep water at one point! The little kids were really excited to see us and kept waving and trying to give us high fives and we whizzed past-we were like celebrities. By this point I was so comfortable on the bike that I was leaning back with my legs raised to avoid the water and waving! We must have looked a very strange sight to the locals.After Hue we took a bus over the mountains to Hoi An, which is a really pretty little town, famous for it’s tailors (I’ve already been measured up
 for some new clothes) and it is another world heritage site. It is getting much hotter the further south we go, so I’m glad that our hotel has a pool.”

live for the moment