The stress of the last few days of frantic packing in Seoul quickly disappeared as we stepped on the plane to Hanoi. Our stuff has been boxed up and is on its way home (fingers crossed it’ll make it) and we have been left with our backpacks and hopefully enough space for plenty of souvenirs.
With four nights in the city, we were hoping for a bit of time to actually chill. Ramsey had only finished his job the evening before and was out late for a company dinner with only four hours sleep before our flight. Despite agreeing that we would both be back by midnight for an early night, I found myself walking through the door at 4am after my last night making the most of Seoul’s fabulous salsa. Thankfully our room in Hanoi had the biggest bed I have ever slept in, but with breakfast from 7-9am it was a tough choice between free breakfast and lie-ins.
We spent most of our time exploring the charming old quarter of Hanoi, with its maze of streets and the hustle and bustle of locals getting on with daily life amongst the throng of tourists. We quickly learnt how to navigate and cross the crazy roads jam-packed with motorbikes, scooters and cars. ‘Just walk and they’ll stop’ seems to be the general advice everyone gives, which is very difficult to follow and have faith in with bikes zooming at you from all angles. We wandered around the Hoan Kiem Lake, stopping to try a Vietnamese coffee as we sat and watched the world go by. In the afternoon we had our first experience of street food which was absolutely delicious before checking out a traditional water puppet show. That evening we met up with Ramsey’s friend, Augustine, who took us for fantastic food and a beer with a wonderful view over the West Lake.
On Saturday, we explored the temple of literature and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, but the highlight was stopping on the way home at the Omamori spa for an incredible massage. Run by a charity for the blind and partially sighted it was a really interesting experience and the massage was fabulous. We left in a daze of relaxation. The evening was finished with our second favourite activity so far, which was sitting and drinking bia hoi on a street corner. Four home-brew beers for 20,000 dong (70p)… Could this be true!?
Our last day in Hanoi was a bit more slow paced, as we actually felt pretty tired from so much walking and possibly not as much chilling as we needed. That said, we still headed to Ho Lao museum which was an eye-opening experience into understanding the treatment of Vietnamese revolutionary prisoners under the French in contrast to the US POWs under the Vietnamese. We met up one last time with Augustine for a delicious pho dinner and tea before heading back to the hostel to pack with an early morning ahead of us.