Hectic Hanoi

From Hoi An we had thought about taking the train up to Hanoi but decided the short flight would be much better.   The airport at Danang ( 40min from Hoi An) was super quiet. It also seemed that the airports we used in Vietnam were frequented by 80% foreigners, strange to see.

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We thought Ho Chi Minh was busy, well we hadn’t seen anything until we got to Hanoi.  Literally not 3 seconds can go by where you don’t hear a horn tooting.

Our first day this hustle and bustle was ok, it felt like a lively city with lots going on.   After that though the constant traffic and noise got a bit much, as did having to walk on the road in the path of traffic because the footpaths were full of parked bikes.
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We still went exploring each day to find some of the local cuisine.   This was our first and last glass of Bia Hoi, the local brew served from a keg thats only good for 1 day.   The first couple of sips were ok but it was a bit downhill after that.  Needless to say a Tiger beer was required to wash it down. 
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Banh Cuon was dinner the first night.  Pork or chicken mince in a rice noodle dumpling, very tasty.
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This woman was at the helm making it day and night.
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Bun cha is a favourite for lunch, pork patties and bacon in a broth to which you add rice noodles and whatever combination of herbs you want.

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And it wouldn’t be right to leave without having a Pho.   The chicken noodle soup was meant to rid us of our colds we picked up.
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We have nothing against dining on plastic stools at plastic tables but we were glad we didn’t have to get down this low to eat.
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We were staying in the central Old Quarter which with it’s narrow streets just seemed to exacerbate the traffic and noise. 
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It was a nice change to walk through the French Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake.   There are many French style buildings including the Opera House.
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The lake was a popular place for wedding photos, there were at least 6 couples that we saw.
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We had a quick look at the pagoda on the lake, a nice spot to stop and catch your breath. 
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Your never far from someone selling something in this city, either from street stalls, walking up to you or off the back of a bicycle.  Fruit, flowers, socks, nail clippers, you name it and they’ll have it.  A local even touted a shoe shine for a British guy sitting next to us once who replied with “What, you’re going to shine my Crocs for me?” Classic.
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Matt was (unsuccessfully) in the market for some new togs so we went on a mission to the newest, monstrosity of a mall in town. The Caesars Palace type statues and fountain are actually the ceiling of the mall which takes up 4 levels underground.
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What’s quite surprising is that there is an ice skating rink and massive waterpark in the middle of the mall.
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There are well over 150 food outlets too, not that any were very busy though, it’s definitely geared up to handle many more people than were there on this day.

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We decided to go to the movies to watch The Hobbit, our first ever 3D movie. It was in a small 36 seat theatre which was great considering we were 2 of 4 people in there. The seats were lazyboy recliner type, the only thing that could have made it better was a blanket to make us feel right at home.
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Coming up to the end of January and the TET festival/Chinese New Year meant the locals were busy buying red lanterns / pictures/ decorations (red for luck) , flowers, sticks of blossom, and also carting around clementine trees on their bikes which Rach found particularly amusing.
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Despite all this seeming activity, due to our colds we actually spent most of our time in Hanoi in our hotel room, a lot of Australian Open Tennis & movies were watched.

Our final night there we had dinner out with an old uni friend of Matt’s who has lived in Hanoi teaching English for 5 years, was a good catch up.

Unfortunately Hanoi proved a little too hectic for us, we were relieved to get a plane to Thailand where we will spend most of the remainder of our trip.

One thought on “Hectic Hanoi

  1. Whow what a great mall, a total contrast to the stalls on the streets.
    Hope you enjoyed The Hobbit 3D movie, we think we would go to the movies a bit more often if they had armchairs like that. – M & I

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