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11: Back in ‘Nam – Hanoi / Ha Giang, Vietnam

Monday 22nd July 2019

Day 83 of my Southeast Asia Trip

Today I headed back to Vietnam with a 7:10am flight into Hanoi. I started that day at 4:20am. After 3 hours of very broken sleep I got up and made the 10 minute walk to the airport. I’d checked in my luggage by 5 and was through immigration by 5:30. Airports are weird, so alive at all times of the day. Although I couldn’t have felt more dead to be quite honest.

I forked out airport prices for coffee and watched it get progressively lighter outside. Then I headed for my gate and boarded my flight to Hanoi at 6:30. I spent the 2 hour flight shamelessly listening to One Direction, before landing in Hanoi at 8:50.

I spent most of the flight nervous about my upcoming venture in Hagiang. The Hagiang Loop has been the most anticipated event of my trip. It’s a 4 day motorbike loop around the northern most province of Vietnam.

Any traveller who’s done Hagiang raves about it and says it’s their highlight of Asia. Therefore I feel like I can’t miss it, especially whilst it’s still relatively untouched by tourism. Despite the fact I don’t have a great deal of semi automatic motorbike experience, I know I’d regret doing it and not driving myself. It’s a challenge I’m definitely ready to take on. Take on whilst covered in knee and arm pads.

It was nice to be in familiar surroundings, as this is my second flight into Hanoi this trip. I whizzed through immigration, grabbed my bag and hopped on the number 86 bus into the city. It cost 35,000 Vietnamese dong (just over £1) and dropped me off in the old town (stop 7), where the majority of hostels and tour agencies are. To get a Grab here will cost about 260,000 (£8).

I am so glad I’d been to Hanoi before and knew what to expect. Otherwise arriving alone would’ve been so daunting and I would’ve cried PHO sure. My first job was to see how soon I could get to Ha Giang. I asked around different travel agents and managed to get a ticket for 11am for just over £10 which seemed the best price I could find. I was glad to be able to travel in the day and not overnight. That was I can actually try and get a decent sleep tonight.

I also exchanged some currency but I think they ripped me off. I kept intermittently getting upset about that. It seemed like the worst thing in the moment and I don’t think I’ll ever not think losing some money isn’t the end of the world. 

Surprisingly my bus to Hagiang was a VIP mini bus which I did not expect! I spent the whole journey drifting in and out of sleep. The scenery along the way was amazing. I was even more glad I got the bus during the day as opposed to overnight. 

I finally arrived in Hagiang at around 7pm at Jasmine Hostel. This is so highly recommended by others who have done the loop, and I can see why. They easily sort your bike rental and insurance for you, and offer additional knee pads and protection – which I have of course opted for! The hostel is actually full tonight so they’ve put me up in a private room for the same price. You also get free breakfast in the morning so you can meet others going off to do the loop.

By this point I was so knackered and definitely very worse for wear. I don’t deal well with travel days or lack of sleep so this was never going to be my day! Food was a must so I grabbed some cheap noodles from a place next to the hostel.

I am really excited to get started on the loop tomorrow. I’ve had some practise on my bike this evening so am feeling a little more confident now! And I definitely can’t wait for all the beautiful scenery.

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