After Nha Trang we flew up to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. In stark contrast to Saigon, which has mostly square concrete buildings and wide streets to accommodate military processions and vehicles, Hanoi feels a lot more intimate, with narrow alleyways and very French-looking buildings. There was street food in abundance everywhere you looked and there was always a place to stop, squat on tiny chairs and enjoy a coffee. There was only one problem with it: It was FREEZING cold. Well, not freezing, but in contrast to the south, it was exceptionally cold. We knew that this was going to be the case, but we simply did not have the space to pack anything too big and warm, so I spent every day layering t-shirts under the one jacket that I brought. Hanoi was to be our base of operations for the next 9 days or so, being the jumping off point from which we visited Ha Long Bay and Sapa.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
There are a lot more cars than motorbikes (xe oms) in the north than the south. Ryan and I found Hanoi to be a bit more beautiful than Saigon. The dialect, however, was a lot more difficult for me to understand.
The first night upon arrival, we were greeted by Anh Thang who made us feel very welcomed and at ease. He offered to book tours for us to Halong Bay and to Sapa (as I had inquired about via email correspondence-they had also sent a taxi to pick us up from the airport for 18USD, not bad). We were happy to have him do so, as we wanted a break from planning and booking things-to have him save us from doing the thinking. I had made prior bookings to other hotels, but cancelled them immediately after planning our itinerary with Thang. It is always good to be flexible when travelling.
That first night we stayed in room 301, which was a pretty good room, clean and in decent condition. We were pretty happy with it. They even had a safety box for us to store our things. The room had its own desktop, and cable TV, awesome.
We went out to Quan An Ngon located at 15 P Phan Boi Chau, cross street Nam Ngu. Ryan and I at Banh Xeo, Banh Beo, Com Tam, and Ryan ordered a beef dish. Everything was excellent minus the Banh Beo which I found to be too watery with little flavor.
Ryan’s stomach apparently did somersaults later in the middle of the night. He threw up quite a few times…poor guy. 😦