South East Asia December 2012 – January 2013
25.12.2012 - 27.12.2012
Tuesday, 25th December (continued)
We arrived at Hanoi airport and after aimlessly walking about for a while, we bought ourselves a sim card and made our way to a mini-bus to take us into the city. Armed with a map, we strolled around the lake to find a charming spectacle of people dancing, waltzing and aerobics'ing to some cheesy tunes. Fighting the urge to watch them go on through the night, we made it to what we assumed was our hotel, only to find out that there were no less than seven “Dragon Hotels” spread around the capital. We did eventually make it to the right one.
Wednesday, 26th December
“Gooooood Morning, Vietnam!”, oh how I longed to utter those words!
Here we were, in Hanoi, with absolutely no plans other than starting the day with a scrumptious banana-pancake breakfast. If there is one good thing about the French colonising Vietnam, it is without a doubt the legacy of pastries and baked goods they left behind. And how I have a soft spot for old-fashioned bakeries and patisseries!
The people at the reception of the hotel were incredibly helpful and friendly and so we inquired about the tours around Northern Vietnam. They had complete packages available at reasonable prices and so we decided to just go for it. It would save us so much hassle and we heard really good reviews from the other guests of the hotel. And so the morning was spent deciding on what tours and packages to go for. It was great to have the next few days entirely organised.
The first thing we did was look up a local tailor. Our good friend Pablo and his husband Glenn had their wedding suits made in Hanoi and we had promised to hand in photos of the ceremony to the tailor and his daughters. They were incredibly grateful for the pictures and we were happy to help put a smile on someone's face. And how gorgeous were their suits?
Pablo and Glenn at their ceremony, looking lovely in their handmade suits!
Next, we decided to visit some of Hanoi's local attractions. It is a really easy city to explore on foot and so we walked along to the Temple of Literature. The weather was dreary and grey, so it was not the best time to explore the place, but it was nonetheless interesting.
Temple of Literature.
We then went on to visit the Botanics, which included the One Pillar Pagoda. There was a swarm of tourists surrounding it, so we enjoyed it from a distance.
One Pillar Pagoda
As we walked on, the atmosphere suddenly changed and it was as though we landed ourselves in Communist Russia. We had arrived at a large pathway, clearly used for Communist parades and with the dullness brought on by the weather, it felt somewhat uncomfortable. We were quite happy to get away and walk on.
Our final stop took us to another beautiful temple on the lake, before we went back to the hotel.
hahaha, no shorts allowed!
Thursday, 27th December
[Happy Birthday, to my uncle Peter!]
We had only spent a few days in Hanoi, but already had enough of it. Somehow, the vibe we got from venturing the city the previous day was not a very good one. It felt desolate, empty, cold and the locals were far from what we expected. None of the promised friendliness, except for the lovely people at our hotel. It really was a disappointment. We wandered the streets a little and got our belongings ready for our trip ahead to the Northern tribes.
That evening, we took the sleeper train from Hanoi to Ló Caí. It was Ben's very first time on a sleeper train and he was both excited and apprehensive. There was absolutely no need for the latter, as the berth we were given was outstanding. We were a little worried at first, as all the 'comfortable' soft beds were fully booked and we had to make do with the supposed hard beds in 'cattle class'. The benches were made of solid wood, but the mattresses were lovely and comfortable, so we were very happy bunnies. And at the first movement of the train, Ben was already out like a light
For more pictures of our time in Hanoi, please access this public free link to our Facebook album: Ha Noi Photo Album