What to do in Hanoi
What to do in Hanoi Reviews
3 days 2 nights in Hanoi Jun 20, 2010
Here's a simple account of my unforgettable Hanoi Trip.
Halong Bay (11/11/06 Saturday)- Woke up at 5am (Vietnam time, but KL time was 6am). Basically the whole last night, I couldn't sleep due to the noise from outside. Our room was just above the busy streets of Hanoi's renowned Old Quarters.
The Old Quarters has its distinctive way of marketing itself, in the sense that each street specializes in one commodity/ service, eg. if it's coffin and funeral services, you will see one whole street of coffin shops. Touch Wood! And so on for the confectionary street, shoes street..etc.
Had simple breakfast of Vietnamese Pork Noodles ( I hated pork, they got my order of English Breakfast totally wrong !). In the end, just ate the noodles.
Our journey started from Hanoi at 8am, taking 3.5 hours to reach Halong Bay, a beautiful place revered as the World Heritage Site, famed for its 5000 years old caves and magnificent gorges. Seriously, I think it was as good as what we usually see at the Lord of the Ring's 'Mountains'/ I would think the caves weren't that interesting as I ain't a 'cave person', but the exercise of climbing the pathway to caves was quite exciting, strictly good exercise for the day.
After the cave trip, boarded the ship heading towards the famous gorges. The sight was absolutely breathtaking. Never will I forget the beautiful scenery coupled with the chicken kiss chicken rock. Hahhaa…
Arrived Hanoi at 8pm. Had a hearty meal at a ‘hawker restaurant’ near the motel before we rushed to see the Vietnamese Water Puppet Show; a traditional cultural show kept alive since thousands of years ago during the Le Empire. The lively puppet show started with a grand Chinese Opera music opening, with the introduction being both in English and Vietnamese. As its name has it, the water puppet show is played on a stage that is filled with water. The puppets from dragons to humans are maneuvered by puppeteers behind the screen waltzing on and into the water. The show delighted me as much as I would be if I were a child. From the start till the end of the show, I was really satisfied. In brief, it is a must see Water Puppet Show ( as one of the travel websites described it, it’s like not been to Eiffel Tower when visiting Paris).
Hanoi City Centre (12/11/06 Sunday)- Visited Hanoi Maseoulem, One Pillar Pagoda (where the Kuan Yin Statue is enshrined inside), Ho Chi Minh Museum (brief walk around), and the highlight of the day- Van Mieu ( Temple of Literature).
Temple of Literature-this is a noble respectable place built thousands of years ago, where Confucioun Scholars meet, research and educate the young students from noble and rich families on Confucious studies.
I particularly like this place, firstly as the entry fee per person was damn cheap, only VND5000, meaning RM2 only. Then to find out there’s so much thing to explore inside. Like the Chinese say, “ Dai , very Dai, so worth it!!”
On my few ten steps to the temple, I was greeted by a roll of artistically trimmed bonsais, didn’t know the temple was filled with prize winning bonsais. Seriously they are of all shapes, sizes and textures. Extremely genius! Then, I see the beautiful lotuses!!
Inside the temple, I see more bonsais again, and big doors after big doors, ultimately arriving at the Literature Hall, where they honour the ancient scholars. It also serves as a museum with all the ancient scholar clothings and even black and white pictures of the scholars, I think they still exist till the cameras were first invented.
Nice calligraphies in Chinese were also displayed with the famous scholar’s signature on it. The architecture of the whole temple site was very well maintained by the Vietnamese government since Ho Chi Minh’s times, which I truly salute and awe at. It is very difficult task for any government to preserve such an old building after its war torn days. Imagine the water puppet show can also be performed so well after many years.
Dinner- Sumptuous hotpot fish ( biggest steamboat ever I have tasted with lots of fresh fish and very cheap), rice, fantastic crab soup ***** and yummy Vietnamese spring rolls for 3 persons costing only RM40.
At night, my favourite activity at Hanoi. Shopping!!!
Our motel was near the famous Hanoi Night Market. Basically they sell the same things like the Pasar Malam in KL, except that there were more interesting. Bought myself bamboo made dragon flies, they really cool, as they can really be stable and still at any places, try it on the finger, it really stands. Also very cheap, per dragon fly only RM1.50.
Hanoi City Centre-(13/10/2006, Monday)
Time to leave.
After yesterday’s tiring search for the famous Hanoi Coffee, we finally settled at one of the shops allocated at the Confectionary Street. Bought some for gifts back home. Mission completed.
As our flight was at 6pm, we still had one whole day, hence we decided to take a taxi to the posh area of Hanoi, West Lake where Sofitel Hotel resides. We bargain like professionals, taxi driver asked for VND 50,000, we haggled it down to VND 30,000), at first, the driver wouldn’t agree, then we pretend to walk away, having the driver to reverse to us and say “OK!”. I was absolutely proud with my bargaining skills on that day, which I had trained after we got conned on the first night.
Arriving at Sofitel, we decided to go in for short tour as hotel guests. Too bad, there was tight security as all the APEC delegates were staying there, the security guard asked us, “sorry, are you hotel guests ?”, and then my friend’s mother being an honest woman, replied “no”. The magic word to no entry to Sofitel Hotel.
Anyway, the hotel was just like any other 5 star hotel, only difference is that it’s the very few posh hotels in Hanoi.
Subsequently, we decided to walk around West Lake, only to stumble upon the most famous Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest Pagoda in Vietnam which we had missed in our tour on Sunday. Yay, it was very much a coincidence for us to stumble upon it in West Lake, as I remembered murmuring to my friend’s mum that we missed this pagoda, wonder how it looks like in that morning before we took off to coffee shopping.
It was an amazing discovery for all of us. Especially aunty (friend’s mum), whom was at awe that we discovered the place by accident, and to find the Great Bodhi Tree (planted from the leaves of the original Bodhi Tree that Buddha sat and gained enlightenment, brought in by the Indian PM to Vietnam as a gift to the country in 1959). I think it’s 1959, I remember it as I repeated the year to my other travel mates.
So like delighted kids that discovered chocolates, we happily picked up the Bodhi leaves from the floor which the tree had dropped.
We were so glad we discovered the place, as the ‘Ang Mos’ especially even took on the ‘Tour Package’ paid I think for this type of City Tour of USD14, hahaha, luckily, we didn’t do that, we practically DIY for so much less. Even after including the taxi charges for 2 days and the food, it doesn’t come up to that amount…hahahhaha……the ‘Satisfactory Glee’ at my face you should have seen when I saw the group of ‘foreigners’ being led by tour guide. Hello, all the information is written on the board and pictures if you understand Chinese and English at some boards.
After the pagoda visit, decided to venture further to the posh residences, the first BMW I saw since my arrival at Hanoi was at Trunc Bach Street. Basically an indication that these residents are affluent. I think it’s good feng shui to stay there, right opposite the Westlake and Pagoda. Hanoi as a whole, I think it’s totally awesome in the location.
Having enough of walk up and down that area, we decided to head home. Taxi for VND30.000 again, hahahah……
Lunch-erm..yummy spring rolls and unforgettable crab soup again (for one last time before we leave), and hotpot chicken….whatelse, can’t remember. Yummy…all very cheap and delicious.
After lunch, bringing our big bellies, we decided to stroll near our motel. Nothing in particular, just wish we had our Vietnamese dress made at one of the shops, if only we knew on the first day that it can be made within 3 days.
My afterthoughts of the trip:
Do visit countries that are developing or poor, you may discover unique things and experiences that one may never forget. Help their tourism to help these people, it means a lot to them
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