The worst part about traveling on a tight budget

…is the time you have to spend researching so you get the best for the few bucks you can part with.

The charm of Hanoi, the narrow room with small doors opening to a balcony overlooking the alley bellow, as well as snacking on day old garlic bread we got from a little bakery where smiling women with yellow hats made sure we are well cared for, is pretty much lost in the moments like now, when I am stuck inside staring at the dreaded laptop, trying to figure out what to do about Halong Bay. And I am starting to wish we could just skip it, because choosing between hundreds of boats and finding your way amongst the pushy sellers, dodgy online reviews and horror stories is definitely not on my bucket list.  It will be so easy, and lets not discuss how much money we will save, if we just rest the left over time we have in Vietnam, walk the streets of Hanoi, savor the food that jumps at you from every corner and leave the famous bay to others.

If we had money, we could just take one of the well known charter boats and drift on the calm waters in peace.

We dont.


These last few days in the country are shaping up to be quite a risky bet that our lucky stars will take care of us and everything will come together…somehow.

Our passports are somewhere, hopefully in Saigon, waiting for Chinese visas to adorn them and they are due to come back to us on the 21st. Our Vietnamese visas expire on the 22nd.

Officially we cannot purchase train tickets to China without our visas, but the people at our guesthouse say they can arrange it. We sure hope so, because last minute train tickets usually mean torture in a dodgy cart somewhere. We have done it, so that part is not that scary.

The train that takes us to the destination in China leaves late on the 22nd, but doesnt actually cross the border until a bit over midnight. How much trouble can we get into for overstaying by an hour? I am sure in the hands of the right officer it could cost us dearly.

At the moment the plan goes like that:
IF we get our visas and IF they arrive right on time, we will be on a train IF we can buy tickets and then we will make our way into China IF we dont face trouble at the border.

IF you have a direct connection to the lucky stars office, I would appreciate a call on our behalf. Thanks.


P.S. After checking, overstaying by an hour might bring us a lot of headaches and now we have to plan to leave the same day our visas and passports are due to be back…it just gets better all the time.

P.S.S. We now have a booking for a cruise for 2 nights from the 18th. (crossing fingers)