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July 17th 2018
Published: July 23rd 2018
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If you visit North Vietnam, it's hard not to use Hanoi as as base. Luckily, the Old Quarter alone has plenty to see.

The streets are pretty crowded with motorbikes but it isn't too hard to walk around. I had been in India before this though, so it's all relative. When you walk into a street and a motorbike is coming, they don't speed up, blare on the horn, ride directly at you, and swerve at the last moment; instead, they slow down as if you're a human being.

Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum was closed when I walked there on a Friday, so I'm batting 1000 after missing Lenin the same way a few years ago. But the complex around the site is nice for a walk, as international embassy areas usually are.

The 1-mile loop around the small lake in the city center is good for a jog, even in a typhoon. On Sundays they close the roads around it and it's pretty popular with the locals. Some of the stations include senior aerobics, dancing to pop music, weightlifting, toy electric cars, shuttlecock hacky sack.

The number of food options is overwhelming - you need a food guide just to figure out what everything is. It's not an easy country to avoid meat, especially pork, which is in practically everything. I did find a terrific catfish restaurant - Cha Cha Thang Long (see photo) - it's a set menu and I had to order a banh mi (sandwich) in the street afterwards to get full.

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