The time finally came for us to leave for 17 hours worth of flying on Tuesday 15th August 2017. My parents kindly dropped James and I off at Heathrow airport and we were on our way!
We had arranged with the hotel which we had booked for the first few nights (Old Town Hanoi Hotel) for a taxi to the airport, on hindsight this is a service that I would recommend to anyone staying at a hotel in Hanoi which offers this service. After a long flight the last thing that you want to do is get into a haggle match with a potentially less than credible taxi driver in an incredibly humid heat. One thing I can say about the hotel is that the staff are lovely and can’t do enough for you. The staff at Old Town Hanoi hotel also helped us book a trip to Halong Bay and even arranged a little surprise for us (but you’ll have to read about that in my next post!)
Our first day was definitely a culture shock. The rain, the heat, the TRAFFIC – it took me around 5 days to get used to crossing the roads here as the mopeds don’t stop for pedestrians. I still have to do it holding my breath and hoping that the drivers around me aren’t looking for some target practice. We are staying in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and it is the epitome of a non-stop life style, somewhat frightening when you first step into it and then as the evening sets in and it settles (to some degree) it has it’s own type of magic. The type that has you wandering around streets, getting lost and being happy about it.
So far we’ve hit the majority of recommended hot spots, we’ve walked around Hoan Kiem Lake, we’ve laughed at the Water Puppet show in the Than Long Theatre, and we’ve experienced the surreality of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
We’ve waded through streets when the monsoon has been at its best, walked through the heat and when we were looking to find a little break from the madness; we headed over to Tay Ho (West Lake) where the majority of British ex-pats live to see how they can live in this amazing and crazy city. You can definitely see the appeal of living in a place like Hanoi with communities like Tay Ho, it is much calmer and the air feels slightly cleaner than it does in the busy old quarter. It also has the benefits of a number of locals serving the same food and drink at the same prices as in the city centre, and at 60p for a pint of beer- who can complain at that? James has even had some ladies ask if they can take selfies with him, funnily enough, blonde haired white men are somewhat of a minority in this area of the world!
Although I was really quite scared when I first arrived in Hanoi, I think that I’ve fallen a bit in love with it. It might be a typical traveller thing to say but I do. It’s my first experience of an Asian city and although it’s full on during the day, the evenings make up for it. Families gather in the streets to eat and everyone seems as if they just want to have a nice evening with good food.
The Vietnamese food we’ve eaten so far has been amazing (both street food and that served in restaurants. I’ve found that I’ve been excited to eat at every meal time!
As mentioned above, After a few days in Hanoi, we had an overnight trip in Halong Bay. We’re back in Hanoi for a few days now and will be shortly moving on to Hue.