It’s good to be in Hanoi

20 Oct

The Temple of Literature, Hanoi.

After spending the last night in Laos, in a dive of a border town eating crisp sandwiches, and then staying two days in Central Vietnam, mostly hostel bound due to excessive amounts of rain, I am extremely excited to be in Vietnam’s capital.

Despite being here for only 24 hours, I think Hanoi has now become the most interesting and characterful place we’ve visited so far. The streets are all tree-lined, people practise Tai Chi and meditation in the parks, there’s a huge lake in the centre, and even the bright orange wheelie bins look really good here.

It's good luck to spot a turtle in Hoan Kiem lake.

Wheelie bin and bus shelter.

Residents of Hanoi just seem to really care about their city. Extra effort has been made everywhere, such as the beautiful mosaic mural spanning hundreds of feet through the city, the excellent quality of the museums and art galleries, and fantastic food. One camera shop we ventured into even had a teapot of tea and papaya slices especially for its customers.

Tea and Cameras

And our hostel, May De Ville is like an expensive hotel. After consuming greasy noodles for breakfast in many places in Laos, I was a little overwhelmed by the all-inclusive buffet breakfast consisting of non-sweet bread, croissants, yoghurt, fruit (huge plates of melon and pineapple), salad, fried potatoes, noodles, eggs, rice, cake- basically a feast for all tastes.

The walls of the May De Ville hostel restaurant also happen to be made from glass windows, and because it’s on the top floor, there’s an incredible almost 360 degree view of the whole of Hanoi. However, the buildings start to significantly fade further back (more than usual), either due to fog or severe pollution. I think it’s the latter.

View from May De Ville Hostel without the fog.

As much as I love this place, I fear the traffic may soon really start to choke the streets. Riding around on a moped is the transport of choice for people who live here- most of whom wander and ride around with their mouths covered. The city is so compact, mopeds have taken up most of the pavements.

Today we ate lunch in a restaurant overlooking several main roads nearby to the Old Quarter. It’s pretty mesmerizing just watching pedestrians and people on bikes weave around one another, in what seemed like no fixed order. It reminded me of a large family of busy ants carrying things far bigger than themselves, such as these two women who drove by wearing ‘I heart Lipstick’ helmets, carrying around 10 full black bin liners of stuff on their bike. I wish I could have been quick enough to take their picture.

I tried for some time to capture the perfect busy ant family/ traffic photo, so it would appear like a sea of congested transport flooding through the streets with little space in between each bike. However, this afternoon I failed to do just that, so I started to take pictures of people crossing the road instead, my favourite being these two Vietnamese ladies holding hands.


2 Responses to “It’s good to be in Hanoi”

  1. lifeatnofixedabode October 21, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I’ll be in Hanoi on 2nd November – reading your post has made me very excited indeed. The breakfast (croissants – hello!!) at your hostel sounds amazing! I’ll be keeping an eye out for the camera shop as well!

    • clarehudson October 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      Brilliant- I’m sure you’ll have a great time. You should also visit the Chuong Bridge (think that’s right)- The guy who designed the Eiffel Tower designed it.

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