Hanoi - prettier, more touristy and a different kind of motorcycle chaos...
Hanoi Travel Blog› entry 16 of 24 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!