Well...I wouldn't rush back, Hanoi and Sa Pa aside. North good, South bad. Everyone wants your money. Everyone coughs and gobs up phlegm in the street, even old ladies. Beeps their horns incessantly. Everyone tries to rip you off. Run you over. Sell you shit. Friendly people have an agenda. I'm pleased to be heading for the peace and quiet of Laos, to be honest.
We got back on the overnight train again. Spent a day bumming around Hanoi, and sat by the lake. We had two lovely girls doing a survey for their tourism course talk to us (we taught them the English expressions "You 'orrible git" and "Do one, mate"...they loved it), and a nice chap called Huin who came over to talk. Initially sceptical at his approach, telling us United had beat Celtic ("What's this cunt want?" The Jock murmered out of the side of the mouth as he sat down), Huin turned out to be a great fella. An Economics mature student, he just wanted to chat and practice his English, which was very good. Spent a good 40 minutes with him, in fact. Not all Vietnamese are out to get your cash, but it certainly feels like it 90% of the time.
It's been interesting. But do yourself a favour...just visit Hanoi.