AsiaVietnamHanoi

Hanoi - prettier, more touristy and a different kind of motorcycle chaos...

Hanoi Travel Blog

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Landing in Hanoi.

In the morning we bid farewell to Saigon.  The flight was very smooth and uneventful.  When we landed in Hanoi - it seemed quieter, the weather cooler (it had just rained) ... I was lulled into believing that this would be a quieter, more calm city.  I watched green fields pass, crumbling old world buildings - some beautifully restored, others in disrepair.  But then my calm was shattered once we entered the Old District - honking galore, masses of cars and motorcycles crammed in tiny lanes, throngs of tourists vying for space in the tiny lanes.  Fortunately, amidst this chaos was our boutique hotel - Hanoi Elegance 2 - we were immediately greeted by helpful staff with a yummy watermelon drink, booked a city tour ($25 pp) and a halong bay cruise tour ($99 pp) and taken to our room - nicely furnished and quiet room.

Rice paddy scene.
  They made everything quite easy for us.  I was particularly pleased with the coffeemaker and fruit in the room - I tend to wake up before everyone including the kitchen staff and it's painful having to wait for my coffee.  A and I were so happy with the room, but A was starving and getting a big headache so we set out to find food.

We found a very cute french influenced cafe - Take Five or something like that.  I had fresh lemongrass and ginger ice tea with honey (very refreshing and light) and A had iced coffee with condensed milk.  (tip - have them melt the condensed milk in hot coffee first or you'll be stirring the drink forever)  I then ate the duck in pita (again, light and good) with potato salad and mixed greens.  A had the steak baguette sandwich but she didn't really like it.

Hanoi Elegance 2.
  To be honest, she was in a pretty cranky mood at this point so she disliked everything, so I just tried to tiptoe around her until she felt better.

Frommers had mapped out a walking tour so we decided to do that.  The starting point was the Hoan Kiem Lake (very picturesque, with a red Chinese bridge leading to Ngoc Som Temple).  It was Saturday so the place was packed!  We took a few pics then headed over to Hang Gai Street where many of the tailors were located.  I settled on one to make 2 dresses for me - cross my fingers - hope they come out ok...I'll find out on Monday.  We then tried to go along the suggested walk but it was quite difficult with the throngs of people and honking vehicles.

Our room at Hanoi Elegance - quite comfy.
  In Saigon there seemed to be some pattern to the madness; here it was just sheer chaos.  The drivers didn't swerve to avoid the pedestrians, it felt like they were daring you to get in their way.  At some point, both of us were in tense moods.  We decompressed a bit at a cafe (across from Cha Ca La Voung) - so so cafe, but clean bathroom.  We made it back to our room and decompressed a bit more.

We both wanted dinner at Cha Ca La Voung - it was showcased in several food shows as having the best place for this particular dish - fried pieces of white fish served with rice noodles, peanuts and veggies.  The original (and best) is located at 14 Cha Ca - there are many imposters so don't be fooled!  We were warned the place was a dive and the service is pretty bad to we readied ourselves for bad treatment - it was gruff but not terrible.

Complimentary fruit, coffee, tea and water.
  We sat in the upstairs level where they ignored us for a bit and then tossed a card that told us they only had one dish on the menu and it was 90,000 VDN pp (approx $6 pp).  (I'm pretty sure that is the "tourist" price.)  Then we flagged someone down to order and soon they brought us little plates of roasted nuts, herbs, fish sauce mixture, and rice noodles.  After a short while, a man delivered a frying pan over coals to our table with the fish frying and sizzling inside.  Then a large pile of veggies were dumped into the pan.  Soon we were enjoying delicious morsels of fish atop the rice noodles.  Quite good!  But watch out - the oil splatters!  Actually, while we were walking to the restaurant, we smelled other wonderful food at many of the local roadside eateries.
At Take Five.
  We may have to give them a try!

We explored the area a little more, discovered a local night market (but we've sort of been marketed out on this trip) and headed back to watch tv and blog.  I think my nights of drinking until the wee hours are over.  hey, at least my ankle isn't swollen anymore.  now, i just have a sore throat.  god is funny that way.

Tomorrow - a city tour and a water puppet show!

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Landing in Hanoi.
Landing in Hanoi.
Rice paddy scene.
Rice paddy scene.
Hanoi Elegance 2.
Hanoi Elegance 2.
Our room at Hanoi Elegance - quite…
Our room at Hanoi Elegance - quit…
Complimentary fruit, coffee, tea a…
Complimentary fruit, coffee, tea …
At Take Five.
At Take Five.
Take Five - pretty little restaura…
Take Five - pretty little restaur…
As happier now that shes eaten.
A's happier now that she's eaten.
My roast duck wrap.
My roast duck wrap.
Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake.
Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake.
Little temple for turtles out on t…
Little temple for turtles out on …
In front of the Bridge of the Risi…
In front of the Bridge of the Ris…
Ditto.
Ditto.
Shop selling birds/bird cages.
Shop selling birds/bird cages.
Fried treats.
Fried treats.
Random building.
Random building.
Women selling chestnuts (?)
Women selling chestnuts (?)
Vegetable vendor.
Vegetable vendor.
In front of some old temple in the…
In front of some old temple in th…
Bamboos everywhere!
Bamboos everywhere!
More veggie vendors.
More veggie vendors.
Old Quarter.
Old Quarter.
Cha Ca La Vuong - quite yummy!
Cha Ca La Vuong - quite yummy!
Hanoi
photo by: mario26