When we were planning our South-East Asian adventure, Claire suggested we add Hanoi to our itinerary, solely based on the fact that her father had been there and loved it. Not one to shy away from strange lands, I agreed to it and we were set to fly there (at 6AM, no less!) from Kuala Lumpur.
I had absolutely no expectations from Hanoi. I didn’t have the slightest clue what it was going to be like. Most travel blogs I’ve read seemed to have fallen in love with Vietnam in general. They boast of the beautiful valleys of Sapa, they loved the metropolis that is Ho Chi Min City, and they soaked up the history of Hue. So, I figured I’d just take things as they come (story of my life!) and see what Hanoi is all about.
We landed in Hanoi to a dark, cloudy sky; the cooler (and damp) temperature prompted both of us to quickly find our sweaters and put them on. Believe me, it was quite the change considering we were fighting the oppressive heat and humidity of Kuala Lumpur just a few hours prior. Once we settled our visas, gained entry into the country, and exchanged our Ringgits into Dongs (teeheee… I still can’t help but smirk every time I say that, how mature am I?!), we made our way into the city and were welcomed with an organized chaos I had never seen before.
Cars and motorbikes trying to squeeze through narrow streets,
vendors opening their shops and setting up their tables well onto the street,
sidewalks peppered with TINY stools,
patrons casually enjoying their food on the side of the street,
pho vendors blanketed with steam as they open the lid of their pots to prepare their soups,
and other vendors vicariously balancing their goods (in this case, flowers) on the back of their bicycle or motorbikes. Considering we saw everything from wooden cabinets to live donkey transported on the back of a speeding motorbike, flowers were definitely the least interesting of them all. You know, you gotta give it to the Vietnamese for balancing such heavy weights atop seemingly weak and tiny motorbikes!
Towards the end of our stay, a part of me couldn’t wait to get out of the chaos (and the rain!), yet another part of me wanted to stay and experience more.
Until next time, Hanoi!