Im fast becoming known as Duncan Doughnut around here.
Jaki blamed me entirely for the Taxi disaster yesterday, that was all my doing.
Then I got caught for the Flip Flop scam and today the bloke recognised me in the street and asked me for his money. He wanted 180,000 Dong to mend a flip flop that cost about 10 dong, but I paid him 100,ooo Dong just to get him off my back cause he looked like a ‘Stalker’.
Today though, I’ve tread new ground and managed to get myself into even more of a pickle than yesterday.
This, as near as I can recall, is our day.
Jaki was up early and wanted to go for breakfast so we made our way to the 8th floor where we found the Restaurant. It is in fact one of the bedrooms converted into a dining room. Its small, with glass windows on three sides which made it hot and a small kitchen the size of a broom cupboard just of it.
The menu was a bit strange it had eggs, bread, Jam, Omelette, scrambled egg or Mushrooms (Scrambled Mushrooms ?) As well as a range of vietnamese dishes which we just didn’t recognise.
The thing was, all these were listed as separate items and it was only when another couple came in we realised you could mix and match as many of these items as required.
There were tea bags and a flask of luke warm water so I asked if I could have some hot water? They gladly obliged serving it in a glass with no handle which meant I couldn’t pick it up as it was too hot.
The fruit juice was pretty awful too!
I decided to stay away from eggs today as Ive probably consumed 2 dozen in the last four days and it’s definitely having an effect. I look like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke after his 49th Boiled egg.
I chose the ham and cheese sandwich which when it came was bacon and Omelette, but it was almost what I ordered.
We spent some time deciding what we wanted to do and see as Im a convert to a new religion.
It’s called BAC. Bugger Anything Cultural. It’s a growing fad.
We decided to take a trip through the paddy fields on a Sampan with lunch, followed by a visit to some caves and a cycle ride through the country side. We booked this through the Hotel rather than on line as they undercut the on line price by $4 and convinced us that there are ‘levels’ of this trip (as it turns out this is true of most trips) and the cheaper one has a crap old bus, with no air-con and a $5 lunch. The more expensive one has a smaller group, better bus with comfortable seat’s (it’s a 3 hour drive away) and the allowance for the meal is $10.
We also want to have a night on a Junk boat in Halong Harbour and we found this on line at $96 each.
When we showed the web site to the lady she laughed.
“That is Swan Cruises, they are the most expensive line offering this trip. There is no way they could offer this for $96.” She told us confidently
When I checked some of the other images used by this web site I realised they had mixed and matched images from different boats and they never at any time tell you which boat you will be going on. Ive since e-mailed them and asked for guidance but it looks like they show you images of the 5* boat but put you on the 2* one. We’ll see what they say.
So, we booked an overnight cruise around the harbour, with a cookery course and a night Squid fishing for $90 each.
I also asked her to phone VietJet lost property to enquire about my Kindle and surprise surprise they knew nothing about it. I could, they suggested go up to the airport lost property and enquire ($30 round trip which will I know will be a waste of time) or, as they now had my e mail address they would e mail me if and when it turned up?
I settled for that.
At around 1400 hrs we booked a two person Rick Shaw ride around the Old Town.
When it arrived it was a one person Rick Shaw into which they stuffed two over weight Europeans and the poor old bloke who was forced to peddle us around became the brunt of all the other Rick Shaw riders jokes as he sweated and puffed us around the streets.
It was, Im sorry to say, bloody uncomfortable and both of us were bruised and sore when we got back. Had we known, we would have booked one each and enjoyed it much more.
Still, it was interesting to see the town from a bike but you really do take a leap of faith in the traffic, which is probably the least disciplined since we started traveling. There are pedestrian crossings, there are even pelican Crossings, but no one takes any notice of them what so ever. You simply walk out in front of the traffic and hope no one knocks you over. It is a total lottery.
After our ride we sat at a Cafe and drank Fruit Juice. I even tried Iced Hanoi Coffee which has condensed milk in the bottom and (apart from my intolerance to all things Caffeine) was bloody lovely.
Buoyed by the increase in stimulants I tried on a Vietnamese hat which was way too small and spotted a lady selling Doughnuts.
Now I’m six foot, about 14 Stone (well on a good day) and this lady was about four foot two in her bare feet.
Before I knew what was happening, I was subject to Bullying. She thrust a bag of doughnuts into my hand and demanded 150000 Dong.
Im still not totally on top of this ‘Dong thing ‘ which means nothing to me which is why I’m not allowed to carry any money.
At the exact same time, Jaki was negotiating with a Lady to buy a Fan and had some money in her hand.
My little doughnut lady tried to snatch the money from Jaki ‘s hand (some thing only the fool hardy would attempt). She (Jaki) looked a little startled and asked me what I was doing?
I grinned sheepishly and said. ‘I don’t Know.’
So Jaki took it up with the doughnut lady (who by now was reinforced by another even smaller doughnut lady) abandoning the poor fan seller to her own devices.
It got even more complicated. Jaki pointed out they had taken 200000 Dong rather than the 150000 Dong initially demanded. Their solution to this was to bung two more doughnuts in the bag and then leg it, leaving us with a £9.50 bag of doughnuts that we didn’t want.
Apparently this was also all my fault for looking at the lady in the first place.
Jaki was just not happy. She didn’t even like the doughnuts, which was lucky cause I scoffed the lot.
As a result I earned the name Duncan Doughnut.
We also went to a shop to get a SIM card for Jaki’s mobile phone but after a painful hour of watching three totally incompetent spotty youth’s trying to get the Sim card in the phone they declared it wouldn’t work.
Would it work with my i Phone we asked?
Of course it would, and they went through the whole process again before declaring this a failure also.
As a last resort we saw an Official Apple Workshop which also sold fried Noodles and rented rooms. for 100,000 Dong they fitted a 3G sim to the I pad which if a little slow, gives us mobile internet access for half the price of a bag of doughnuts.
On the walk home there was a guy cutting hair at the side of the road using a pair of wall papering scissors. I saw this a s a challenge and asked him if he could trim my Beard?
For 70,000 Dong (less than a third the price of a doughnut. Everything is now relevant to the cost of a doughnut) he would give me a hair cut too.
So the next thing you know ,I’m in the chair and he’s hacking lumps out of me barnet.
He spoke a little English but we didn’t have too much conversation about style.
It was a straight forward haircut I was getting. No Frills.
When I was younger my brother Tony and I went to MR Boswell’s barbers on Sea Mills Square and asked for a ‘Mod Cut” (which was all the rage at the time).
“Certainly young man, hop in the chair.” Said Mr Bowell happily.
We imagined emerging looking like Stevie Marriot from the Small faces. Instead of which we ended up with a short back and sides.
“Thats a short back and sides Mr Bowell”. We said in Harmony.
“Thats right Son, thats all we do here.” He replied.
One of my early disappointments and I’m sure, one that damaged me emotionally for years.
So after cutting my hair my new found Hanoi barber set about trimming my beard which entailed him leaning across me with my face firmly embedded in his armpit.
Now for a guy whose job is personal hygiene I have to tell you, he was left wanting. Luckily Jaki wasn’t there to watch (she’d got bored some time ago) so I didn’t quite convulse.
Once that ordeal was finished, he decided to give me a wet shave with a blunt cut throat razor which dragged each bristle out of my face and left me with two cuts on my cheek.
Once free, I staggered back to the room where I sought solace in the remaining doughnut and Jaki’s sympathetic ear.