It was more like good evening, but you get the drift.
So we made it, no thanks to Opodo, but that’s now in the past. To say I was a little apprehensive when we arrived in Hanoi was an understatement. I am not sure why but I had no need to be. The drive from the airport to the old city (about an hour) was a complete eye opener with regard to traffic, but we can’t say we weren’t warned. We thought Bangkok was busy traffic wise, the traffic here is a whole new level of madness, this makes London look like quiet. There are mopeds (the best form of transport as it’s the quickest) and cycles using the hard shoulder of what I believe to be the dual carriage way, as well as food stalls lining the route. One final piece of traffic info is they LOVE using their horns, it is used to let people know you are about to overtake, but mostly it’s used to let people know you’re there. Why? because most people park their mopeds/scooters on the pavement so the only place for pedestrians to walks is the road. Saying that we haven’t seen a single accident yet between motor vehicles and/or pedestrians.
Unlike Luang Prabang, Gethin had a very good feeling about the place once we arrived and although I wasn’t 100% sure to begin with by lunch time the next day I was agreeing with him. There is something very special about this place. We read an article on TravelFish http://www.travelfish.org/feature/185 which had the best few lines of text ever and it so describes the city:
THERE IS NOT ONE SPECIFIC THING WORTH SEEING IN HANOI.
And yet Hanoi itself is unmissable.
Spend your time rushing around to see any of the sites on the above list and you may miss its charms. Worse, you’ll get so stressed by this crazy, congested, polluted, sometimes unforgiving city that you’ll become blinded to this incredible street theatre.
So what have we done, we’ve wandered round the city, got lost a few times but mostly we have been enjoying the warmth the city has to offer once you block out the traffic noise and the constant tooting of horns. Would I come back here again, definitely without a doubt.
I’ve been walking around Hanoi with a massive grin on my face. There’s something very special about this dirty, smelly, congested city that does it to you. If you come here, you’ll either run away screaming after an hour or want to stay for weeks.
Crossing the street is like being the Frog in the old 80’s computer game Frogger. See a gap, run for it. Maybe wait in the middle of a few streams of mopeds buzzing past you and make it alive, just, to the other side. That’s just how it is here. The locals laugh when you say that it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Here’s a quick video – this was a quiet evening….
I think I might be having a serious food crush on Vietnamese food. Bun Cha (BarBQ pork served in a broth with noodles, masses of green herbs, chilli and garlic), the Catfish Spring Rolls at the excellent Highway 4 restaurant, conveniently just across the street from the hotel, drinking Bia Hoi (draught beer) sat on tiny seats on the street for VND5000-10000 (15-30p). It’s all fresh and delicious – I need to find a cookery school when we get to Hoi An
Oh and the coffee is awesome. Iced coffee with condensed milk is lovely – and I feel dirty typing that 🙂
Flicker Photos: Not worth uploading. Hanoi isn’t the place to take photos – just come here and get overwhelmed. The memories will stay with you forever.
Hanoi Legacy Hotel – Bat SU (Old Quarter): Well worth a look if you’re in Hanoi – we paid £15ish a room for the type of place you’d expect to pay £100+ in the UK.