9 days before the end of 2004 I was bumming around in Saigon, in the south of Vietnam, gradually contemplating my trip up along the coast of the long, narrow shores of Vietnam. Finally I found the motivation to head onward and upward, and it has been hectic and tiring since then. Passing through the beach towns of Mui Ne and Nha Trang, the waste-of-space historical town on Hoi An and the unremarkable-but-fortuntely-located Hue, and finally just after dawn on New Years Eve I pulled into a shiverry Hanoi. In total, it was 9 nights, 36 hours on the bus, two overnight trips, 6 cities, 15 bars and countless friends made along the way. But finally making it before the year was out was priceless.
Last night was a chance to celebrate, both the end of another year, and also the end of an intense period on the road. Hanoi has a rather quiet and subdued nightlife, with none of the bustle or excitement of Saigon. The night started and ended in the favourite travellers bar of Hanoi, the painfully named Funky Monkey, which shows all the imagination of a Communist republic. Drinking through the night, the group gradually grew from a core of 4 to an international cacophany of 15 by the time midnight struck. Like with many New Years Eves in the past, there is always a rather drastic letdown once midnight arrives, with the celebration of a new year feeling like it deserves more than sparklers and the phrase Happy New Year drunkenly slobberred into the ear of a stranger. The night kicked on, a detour to the tackiest night-club in Hanoi coming to a screeching holt when the 80,000 dong (About 7 AUD) was revealed. Instead, far more ingeniously and in true backpacker spirit, two cheap vodka bottles were snuck in and mixed under the table to beat the NYE prices.
Happy New Year all, and have a safe and happy '05.