From Singapore we fly north to Hanoi, duration two and a half hours choice of airline Vietnam this time, price $150.
A feeling of trepidation engulfs me because I have been here before and spouted to anybody and everybody who would listen to me that this is without doubt my most favourite city that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting in the world.
On arrival I comment to Thomas how foggy it is. Soon realised that it is smoke not fog. Last time we ventured here it was summertime. This time winter! The burning of rice stubble is the cause.
Our driver greets us outside customs, his English nonexistent of course. Who cares! This is Vietnam. Everything will turn out right it; always does; just have faith. The traffic of Nam has changed little since my last visit. The rules are simple. The biggest has right of way. Roundabouts are chaotic; traffic lights; motorbikes, ten abreast and pedestrians, in the lap of the gods. I can only sit in the back seat, gazing out the window and smirk at Daniels front seat view of proceedings. He has never been to Asia before and is engulfed in
night cap on the street
Arriving at our hotel, a chain of three, in the backstreets of the French Quarter, our hotelier informs us our room is not ready yet. It is 6pm, the hotel booked weeks ago, I think it is time to kick out his freeloading cousins and let the customers in.
We venture out for dinner. Prawns, pork pancakes, squid, spring rolls and fried cabbage all washed down with Hanoi beer $40 for the four of us. Adjourn to bed at peace with the world.
Awaken to the barking of dogs, crowing of roosters and of course the beeping of horns. Hanoi wakes early at a frenetic pace. The streets are packed with people, the sidewalks covered with vendors, the roads full of motorbikes and cars. If you are a shopaholic this is the place for you. The place is busy to say the least. The people are friendly, a little too friendly sometimes. They try to sell you, wallets, cigarette lighters, shoe repair, pastries, t shirts, books. The boys keep telling me to stop smiling at every one who passes by but I just can’t help myself. It is the country boy in me. I end
up having my shoes mended and cleaned – not really necessary, bought a cigarette lighter, Kathy a jumper as she left hers on the bed in Singapore. In this environment I can live my dream to become a philanthropist.
We walked the Long Bien Bridge across the Red River. A bridge for motorbikes and the train only. A chance to see the city from a different view point and the shanties below.
It is 3pm and we are sitting at a roof top bar, seven floors up, overlooking Hoam Kiem Lake in the centre of Hanoi. The boys aren’t interested in pagodas, jails, mausoleums and famous sights so we are living the back packing life at the moment.
Have not seen the sun and the people are dressed in black and grey. Winter is here and the vibrant colours of Hanoi are gone but yet the vibrancy of this place still remains. The business of the place and the happiness of the people are still alive and well. I sit and watch the world go by and realise I am still infatuated with Hanoi.
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