So we are here. And it's been like a merry-go-round of emotions, sometimes just go-round and not merry at all. The reason is one word, rather country, Vietnam. It's full of contradictions.
While Laos and particularly Luang Prabang and Muong Ngoy (heaven on earth) had been beautiful, relaxing and very pleasing; from the moment we entered Dien Bien Phu... It was like entering Delhi, with different faces. Touts grabbing at your arm, poking your shoulder for attention and shouting at you (!) if you didn't pay them attention. It got worse when we took the bus from Dien Bien to Son La.
The journey from Dien Bien to Hanoi was either a plane tw0 days later or a 12-hour bus ride. We thought we were being smart when we decided on a break-journey-bus-ride. It included a stop-over in trucker-city, Son La. What a nightmare. The Lonely Planet had warned it's a town full of brothels. We ended up in one, it was near the bus stop. Why did we go there? Oh because we were short on cash by the time we reached Son La, I was getting paranoid and well, I was getting paranoid. Also, the whole shouting-poking-touching was getting to me. In Delhi, I would have solved it by punching them in the face... But you can't do that in another country. And I have never been good with being patient or polite. Especially not when someone is siddling close to me and shouting. Sigh.
But I am learning. Last night at the shady Son La guest house was not pleasant at all. The poster of a girl with one boob bared should have warned us; we were tired though. Two hours later, the sweet-but-tired looking girl sitting at the reception changed into this garish caricature of a woman with loads of makeup and a lost expression. Another women, equally garish appeared to be ordering the other girl around. Second woman was the madam. As we walked up to our room, there was a TV blaring out of another rooml; stupid me happened to look in through the window... there was a guy lying nude with women's clothes strewn on the bed. Another hour later as Partner and I tried to sleep, we heard a woman wailing from another room. It continued for 20 minutes. Then some harsh voices, couple of men, some more crying and scary, scary silence. Two hours later -- 2 am now -- I was woken up by the sound of men laughing and hooting. Partner was awake, with one hand stroking my forehead to calm me down. Thankfully it was nothing sinister, just boys watching soccer.
Anyway. After all and a rather bumpy 6-hour ride on the bus, we arrived at Hanoi. I have been surprised... but I gotta run now. Let's just say that after the initial scare and absolute disaster that could have been Vietnam, I am looking forward to it. More later. :)