Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Exploring A Rainy Hanoi, Vietnam

After just over a week of travelling through Laos it was time to move onto our next destination, Vietnam. And where did we choose to begin? Amongst the craziness of the mopeds in Hanoi. 

We really did love our time in Laos, but as our days were drawing to an end (along with the hot weather and sun) we found that there wasn't much else for us to do. So we packed up, boarded our flight and moved onto Vietnam. Having heard great things about Hanoi, we chucked our bags straight in our rooms upon arrival and headed out onto the streets to explore and grab some tea.

(The Old City Gate)

We arrived in the evening to the miserable drizzle of rain, so we picked up some street food and wandered around the little markets staying close to our Hostel. With Vietnamese New Year - otherwise known as Têt - just around the corner, the streets were crazy busy with mopeds and locals buying all their traditional foods and decorations in preparation for the big day. Over the next 3 days we became the typical British tourists and managed to tick off most of the main tourist attractions on our list. 

We experienced & visited:

- Hoh Chi Minh's Mausoleum
- The Hoa Lo Prison
- The Women's Museum
- Hoàn Kiêm Lake & it's famous 'Red Bridge'
- Tried 'Egg Coffee' (tastes better than it sounds... Promise!)

It was so strange to be walking around the city stepping over train tracks and seeing shops and homes built right next to them. It really is another world. We also quickly got used to the craziness of the mopeds too, and 'commit' became our favourite phrase as you literally have to step out into the road, commit to the walk and hope that they swerve around you! Which 9/10 times they did... 

Despite our 4 days here being overcast and wet, we managed to make the most out of the city and the lake/bridge looked just as pretty as we imagined it to be.

We were even taken to a little rooftop cafe hidden away behind the hustle and bustle on the main streets to try the cities famous 'egg coffee'. I'd heard about egg coffee through a traveller we met back in Laos who told us we just had to try it. I can't say I was too keen on the idea until I actually sat down and tried it and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised! It's basically just whipped egg whites heated up slightly and placed on top of their traditional Vietnamese black coffee. It's so sweet and delicious - you'll definitely want another one!

Despite the rubbish weather, we loved our few days spent here. The city itself has so much culture and atmosphere it's hard not to take to. What made it even better is that we were there during the build up to Têt, so the atmosphere was even more intense and crazy than usual. Having visited China and Japan in Summer, the business of the Hanoi didn't really scare me or make me feel uneasy, but I can imagine that it could be a little daunting if you haven't experienced a busy city before. The amount of cars, mopeds and people is on another level! 

Our hostel (Backpackers Hostel) was in a great location just by the night markets, and was a short walk to all the main attractions. The only downside to our trip here was that we didn't get to visit the History Museum as it was closed on the days we were there, so make sure you check what's open first before heading out to explore. Other than that we had such a fab time, and if you're a big fan of shopping and snapping up the fake designer brands then it's the place for you. We just didn't have anywhere to put it in our backpacks otherwise we'd have emptied our bank accounts!

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