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Hanoi, Vietnam

We had a few days in Hanoi before we headed to Sapa and then came back again after Sapa. In those initial few days, I can’t say we were that impressed with it. The moped traffic is appalling and there are hazards everywhere from drain missing covers that threaten to swallow you whole to spitting fat from pavementside woks. Some local even had the audacity to try to pick pocket me, needless to say, he was rumbled mid fumble.
However, the city did grow on us slightly on the second stint. The old quarter is an assault on the senses and the clichéd scenes that you imagine in Vietnam are everywhere you look. There are little cafes that just pop up on the pavement, people selling fruit, veg, meat from just a mat laid on the ground in an alley and the offer of moped taxi’s at every corner.

The lake in the middle of the city is really pretty with a lovely temple which sits on its own island. We visited the one pillar pagoda which is an oasis from the traffic noise. We went to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum but didn’t go in...Visited the temple of Literature which was really beautiful although somewhat marred by tat shops and a cashpoint despite it being an historical site!

We had a somewhat frustrating visit to the supermarket, admittedly we were already frustrated as we entered as it had taken us an age to even find the place. We looked around and the things that we had specifically gone there for they didn’t have. We bought a few basic provisions for the fridge at the hotel, we shook our heads when we found the Laughing Cow triangles were security tagged whilst bottles of wine and spirits weren’t!

We upload this at Hanoi airport where you cannot exchange foreign currency yet duty free sell microwaves. Also very angry with myself because I forgot my Swiss army knife was in my wallet, this was obviously confiscated at security. Feel slightly bereft, the knife and me go back a long way and it has been one of the most useful things we brought with us.
Whilst Vietnam has many, many idiosyncrasies we have really enjoyed our time here and it is perhaps the most diverse country we have visited. Despite warnings from other travellers, we found the people very friendly, helpful and charming (other than the pick pocket). It is now only a few days before Polly joins us which we are really looking forward to, we are hoping she might even guest write a blog entry!!
Thailand here we come.....

permalink written by  Tim and Em on July 26, 2010 from Hanoi, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Round half the world!
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