Last day in Hanoi, last day in Vietnam.
Has turned cold again after a few warm days. People wrapped up in scarfs under a gloomy overcast sky. It's the last day for me and thankfully feeling much better, after a day of zero energy yesterday. Don't plan on any heavy street pounding, although might go and have a look at uncle Ho's resting place (Ho Chi Minh mausoleum), but really not that bothered about it.
Headlines from the Vietnam news today: 'Four die, 13 hurt in Lao bus plunge'. A bus carrying 94 passengers looses brakes and hits a cliff. It was a local bus, with a capacity of 54. 'City plans end to hospital overload'. Hospitals in Saigon are hopelessly overloaded and the government are urging the Saigon people's committee to build more. Bird flu is a hot topic over here with statistics and figures emerging on a daily basis. 'Rabid dogs killed seven people last year'. 'Danes provide aid for Dak Lak'. Denmark is pumping 1.9 million us$ into the northern Vietnam economy to develop agriculture. In the same vane, Australians are giving 904,000 us$ over 3 years to develop eye-care across 11 provinces. 'Viettel to produce its own iPads this year for 200us$'.
Bangkok tomorrow, flight at 9am, hope there's a bus at 6. Should be since I was able to get a bus at 5am from across the river last week. Vietnam is more expensive than the average tourist perceives. There seems to be a systemic culture of 'get the gullible tourist', and several tourists have learned that, the hard way. I have come across cases of 100% price hikes with hotels being the worst culprits and tour desks a close second. Personally, in the 4 weeks in Vietnam I had to pay 4 $ for the thimble of coffee, 110,000 vnd for a 330 ml can of tiger larger and 47,000 vnd for water. There is however good value to be found among the locals, after a bit of searching, and a liking for noodles, rice and soup. There isn't much in the way of sweet and sour prawn balls or any of those things available from the local Chinese takeaway back in Britain. If they are found then its in a restaurant, where the price ends up quite close to what is paid back home. Vietnam overall rates 50% satisfaction, saved by the scenery of Sapa and Halong. If I return, it'll be to Saigon!