I desperately need to catch up on my Vietnam blogging, so apologies for the newsfeed overload today!
We took an evening flight into Hanoi, Vietnam. Neither of us had ever ventured here before, so the excitement was overflowing. Unfortunately the rain and darkness obstructed our first views from the car ride. We had arranged an airport transfer through our hotel so that we wouldn’t have to hassle with the usual negotiations and sneaky meter non compliance. After a generally peaceful drive, our driver pulled aside on a busy road, and pointed us to a tiny alleyway, not big enough for a car to fit through. We glanced skeptically around, and I was fully prepared for the eye rolling my boyfriend was about to give me for booking a seedy place. We were very pleasantly surprised when we came across our hotel, almost hidden in the alleyway. It was nicely lit up with a warm and cozy feeling.
The friendly man at reception helped us check in, and provided us with a map of the area so we could explore on foot. We were then taken up to our room with was spacious, clean and modern. The only issue we had was with the shower, but he quickly came back and fixed it for us. The hotel was called Sans Souci IV, and I would definitely recommend it.
We had a quick shower and set off to explore our dinner options. It was cold and rainy, so we didn’t spend too much time picking a restaurant – this was a mistake! We ended up at a double story Irish restaurant/pub which had bad pizza.unfortunately i don’t remember the name of the place, my subconscious was clearly trying to block it out! After dinner we went back to the hotel to relax before our long day trip to Ha Long bay the following day, which deserves a whole post to itself.(to follow)
When we arrived back from Ha Long bay, we were exhausted, hungry, and I was ready to explore a bit more of Hanoi by night. I’m sure John just smiled and went along, what a trooper! We found a great restaurant with served delicious Pha, and even better cashew nut chicken.
After dinner, we stopped and had a cup of Vietnamese coffee. I found the coffee to be very strong, but I really enjoyed how they served it with condensed milk instead of sugar and fresh milk. On our way back, we stopped at a a street vendor and bought a steamed bun. As John took a bite, we stopped to peer inside. to our surprise, we spotted a boiled egg with the pork. We must have turned as we were investigating the steamed bun, as we got lost getting back to the hotel. we retraced our steps and established that we had meddled with our orientation when dumbfounded with the egg scenario.
we spent our last full day in Hanoi walking around and getting to know the city. I stopped at a post office and sent my mom a postcard home. We walked around the lake with the building in the middle, and we tried some amazing chocolate and orange ice cream at a restaurant on the edge of the lake. It felt slightly reminiscent of a scene from the Sound of Music, with the beautiful backdrop to the Von Trapp house. We were fascinated with the tiny child plastic stools that many people sit on outside their pop up shops. I’m not sure if it is true, but a local told us it was so that the shop could quickly pack away the stools when the police came around (they weren’t allowed to be on the sidewalks). We never did verify that fact.
We stopped at a tiny restaurant right about 100m from our hotel for dinner. It was called Noodle & a roll. I had a plate of springrolls, some noodles, soup and a bottle for coke for the equivalent of just under $2. After dinner, we walked back to the lake and took endless photos. The rain had stopped, the air was calm, it was magnificent. Unfortunately my photo here was slightly slanted, but you get the idea.
We succumbed to the traditional tourist attraction – The water puppet show, and we were so glad we did! We had no idea what they were saying, but the music and the little puppet display was entertaining. they had fire breathing dragon puppets etc. After dinner, we went back to the hotel to pack for our flight to Nha Trang the following morning. I enjoyed Hanoi and I would definitely recommend it to people, but I definitely feel like we have seen it and have no need to go back. the one thing I noticed about t\where we stayed in Hanoi, was that at around midnight every night, somebody would go around with a megaphone selling rice or something along that line. It woke me up every time, but, as they say, when in Rome..