Hanoi offers endless possibilities and contrast: from fabulous street food to luxury restaurants, Bentley to bicycles transporting an entire houshold and Sofitel to 5$ backpackers.
Our first culture shock was the traffic in Hanoi. Honk, honk, honk as soon as you step out of your hotel. Nope, it is not one car, or two, or three, but hundreds of motorcycles simultaneously. Guess that is the vietnamese language, or perhaps, their way of communicating on the road: watch out! get out of my way! want a ride? etc…First thing we had to learn here was not to order food, but rather how to survive not being hit by cyclos, motorcycles and cars when crossing the road. No one would stop to let you cross and traffic is abundant, so how? Survivor skill no 1: walk together with locals. Wait until a local appears and crosses the road, you walk right next to them. Don’t see locals around? Skill no.2: take a deep breath (ok not too deep, air’s not so clean – apparently Hanoi has one of the worst congestions of asian cities, even worse than Bangkok) and walk slowly. Surprising but somehow you will make it without beeing hit. 5 days here and we have not seen any accident, so there must be some order in this chaos, ya? We survived first day in old quarter on foot, venturing some narrow/crowded streets, local markets trying out some local food, crossing countless streets.
If you google “vietnamese food”, you will get lots of suggestions as to what you should try here. Delicious and cheap, “dangerous” they can also be (You can refer to Roman for further details about his experience on the second day). Well we do almost always eat in the local, cheap roadfoodstall but since we have kind of developed a sense of where to eat during our numerous trips in Asia we were both pretty surprised about him beeing down for a full day due to some bad food. Afterall, Vietnam might be a bit different to others countries. Therefore we had to cancel our booked private tour to Ha Long Bay (It is a pity!) but it would not be an enjoyable one anyway. So after resting for almost one day in the hotel we were active exploring the city again. Visited the Hoa Lo Prison (educational but a very sad place!), the french quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature. Walking around the Mausoleum, the respect and love for their leader Ho Chi Minh, and their pride and belief in the success of communism is pretty evident.
To sum up, Hanoi is a very contrasting and lifely, yet dirty and loud city to start our trip with. During our entire stay we havent seen the sun for a single minute due to the heavy smog and temeprature laid around 15 degrees. Though there are some good museums and sights, the vibrance of the citys’ streetlife remains the main attraction to us. Be it a motorcyclist transporting his son and wife together with his two dogs, a local woman carrying a deepfryer on top of half a kitchen on her shoulder, another sudden power breakdown and candlelight 6 story walk to our hotel room or a bunch of people playing cards next to one of vietnams’ main train lines: Hanois hustle and wonderful spontaneous temper always kept us entertained.
That’s it for Hanoi and Northern Vietnam, 5 days has been enough. We are off for our first train ride to the countrys’ old imperial city in Central Vietnam: Hue.
…is there not something missing…?
…Of course: the most pleasant memory of the whole trip here in Vietnam is the visit to Hoan Kiem Lake on the evening of 05.02.2015…because that is where HE proposed and where I said yes <3