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Viet Nam May 4 Hanoi to Halong

posted May 15, 2014, 7:47 PM by Long Quoc Tran   [ updated Dec 8, 2014, 6:52 PM by Tran Quoc Long ]
I woke up around 4:30am and started rousing everyone up. We arrive as scheduled at 5am, below is one of the hard seat cars without air conditioning, looks like a prison cell.

Again walking on the train tracks to get back to the main building...

We were advised by my agent not to leave the premises, and to pick up a Mai Linh Taxi inside the main train station. We managed to locate a few of them within the complex. The drivers wear white shirts and don green ties. The taxi's can be green or white with the Mai Ling Logo. Below is a sample pic of one though not the one I was in..

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*It was super chaotic with all types of cars/taxis/people outside the train station. I took a photo of the horrible traffic, and am so glad I did. Trusting the Mai Linh company as my travel agent and my hotel had recommended it, I trust the meter as well, which the driver starts at 100,000dong (it should have been 10,000dong). Being that I was so exhausted from the long train ride and we were tired, I didn't notice the huge error even though I knew the approximate cost of the ride. My 50,000 dong ($2.5) turned out to be 500,000dong ($25) 10x the amount it should have been. Anyhow I didn't even realize I was scammed until we were in Halong Bay. I was super upset...when we returned to the hotel the next day, I informed the hotel of the situation. They looked at their security cameras but could not find anything and I didn't get a receipt because I thought what I was paying at the time was correct. The front desk receptionist, Ngo, was pretty mad at what happened. It reflects badly on their services because it is a company they endorse.

Anyhow, while at the airport on my way to Hue, I locate the picture below, which shows the car ID! JACKPOT! I email the photo to Hanoi Diamond Elegance Hotel. They call up Mah Linh...2 days later while I was in Hoi An, I get an email from my Hanoi Hotel informing me that Mai Linh Corporate located the driver and he has lost his month's bonus, and he brought the money back to the hotel with an apology. The hotel receptionist asked where they should send my money, but I had always intended for them to keep it as tip as a token of appreciation. The hotel did not need to do anything like this since we had checked out days before but they felt that it was the right thing to do. Lesson learned, I got a bad apple when it came to the driver, but at least Mai Linh is a reputable and a REAL company.

5:30am morning drive back to the hotel, we saw many Hanoians out doing morning exercises in the park...there was everything Tai chi, aerobic classes, walking, jogging, etc.

Another reason to love HANOI ELEGANCE DIAMOND HOTEL. We had checked out of the hotel on May 1st, but hotel held our luggage until May 5th, and it was always accessible to us between trips for our clothing changes. What made them really great was that when Heidi asked, and since it was not in use, they allowed us to shower in the Spa Room! Free of charge! They even provided clean towels and toiletries. OMG it was the BEST shower of my life after spending the day before exploring Sapa, then onto the overnight train in 100% humidity. We tried really hard not to mess up the room so as not to give cleaning staff extra work.

After my shower, I walked by myself to the lake to try to get some money from the HSBC ATM. To my dismay none of the ATM's were turned on/opened perhaps because it was before 8am! Who knew that ATM's closed...there was 1 or 2 bank atm's that were opened but since I was not pressed for cash, I decided to wait to get cash from HSBC to avoid extra charges.

Morning vendors...

Doggies ride the scooters too...

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