Waiting for the minibus to bring us to Lau Cai train station

Around 5 pm a minibus would pick us up to take us back from Sapa to the train station in Lau Cai. So there is still plenty of time before heading back to the Old Quarter of Hanoi. I spend my time walking along the lake, sit down to read something, and head to the market again. Around 4 o’clock, I arrive back at the hotel. The minibus is on time, and an hour later, we are in Lao Cai. We are not allowed on the platform yet and have to wait another good hour in the station’s hall.

In a sleeping compartment with 3 Chinese and without air con

This time I have to share a sleeping compartment with three Chinese, two men and a woman. I nest on my bed, again at the top like last time. However, I have a hard time catching sleep. These Chinese men consistently receive phone calls or text messages on their mobiles.  Moreover, when the train runs for an hour, the air conditioning switches off as well, even though we paid for aircon. That also refrains me from a decent night’s sleep.

Metered taxi to the hotel at 5 am

At a quarter past five in the morning, we arrive in Hanoi. Once outside the station, I order a metered taxi to the hotel, for a much too high price, but I am too exhausted to start discussing the cost. Of course, the hotel is still closed. But when another taxi stops a little bit later, four Chinese get out; they knock on the fence a few times, and a staff member opens the hotel door. The Chinese men can go straight to their room: I have to wait until my room is released at 8 o’clock this morning.

inscription on pilar in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Strolling around the Old Quarter of Hanoi

sunbathing cat at entrance of Old Pillar Pagoda

Once in my room, I fall asleep until noon. After a shower, I head back into the Old Quarter of Hanoi for lunch and go searching for some extra souvenirs. I want to buy a Buddha sculpture, but I do not find a beautiful one, it must be wood carved, in my opinion. Anyway, tomorrow I have one day left to look further.

Buddha figures in Hanoi

Spring rolls for dinner

For dinner, I want to eat a typical Vietnamese dish again. So I order satés with peanut sauce as a starter and grilled fish Hanoi style as the main course.  You need to make spring rolls yourself with rice paper, vegetables, and of course, the fish; I have eaten a similar dish in Ninh Binh before, but then it was with goat meat. Once you prepared the spring rolls, you then dip them in fish sauce. The dish tastes delicious again.

Old Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi

A visit to the Old Pillar Pagoda

During my last day in Hanoi (and Vietnam), I visit the Old Pillar Pagoda in the morning by a motor-taxi. And this time I manage to get there for a reasonable price. Compared to what I saw before during my holiday here, the pagoda itself is not that much of interest. It is also a very touristic place, because it is located nearby, or better, within the Ho Chi Minh complex.

gold sculpture at Old Pillar Pagoda

Motorbike ride for a fair price

I take some photos and then return by motorbike to Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, again for the same reasonable price. You can not make a state upon fare prices here; one time, you get completely ripped off, the other time, there is nothing unfair.

Buddhist shrine inside Old Pillar Pagoda

Finishing off in the Old Quarter of Hanoi with local beer and rice wine

After lunch and a siesta in the hotel, I walk to the Old Quarter of Hanoi for the last time a little past four in the afternoon. First, I have some Hanoi beers in a local pub, and then I take my final dinner; I choose that delicious grilled tuna again. To conclude the journey, I taste some rice wines in a bar near the hotel; heavy stuff, but tasty. A German guy at a nearby table wants to drink the same as me, but looking at his face, he finds the stuff too strong.

Ready to fly home again

Around 9 o’clock, I arrive back at the hotel and start preparing my backpack for the return trip. This time I am less inclined to go home. My Vietnam trip included great moments, but spending four weeks was enough.