Day 1, Friday 16th October 2009
Our "Halong Hanoi Elegance" discovery kicked off this morning when we boarded the Singapore Airlines flight to Hanoi, about three and a half hours from Singapore. Located at the heart of the Red River Delta, Hanoi is the capital city of socialist Vietnam, home to about 3.7 million of the nation's 86 million people.
Touching down at the Noi Bai International Airport at 12.30pm, we quickly picked up our luggage where the hotel representative was already expecting us at the arrival hall. The 45 minutes ride from the airport to the city was comfortable. It was certainly worth paying the extra money for the airport pick-up service to avoid the notorious taxi mafias at Noi Bai Airport.
Checking in at the Hanoi Elegance Boutique Hotel was a pleasant experience. The positive reviews we read in the tripadvisor forums were coming true before us. Clean, large rooms aside, the hotel boasted an excellent location in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter. Manned by a team of friendly folks, this 12-room cutesy boutique hotel was cosy and made us feel right at home in a foreign land. In all my years of travelling,
this is the only hotel where every bedroom came attached with a computer providing high-speed internet service.
We spent the rest of this evening getting our bearings right in the Old Quarter and the Dong Xuan Market. Crossing through the endless maze of motorcycles may seemed apprehensive at first. But oftened, it was easier to negotiate than we imagined as the skilful motorcylists would certainly dodge away from the pedestrians.
Dinner was a simple Vietnamese classic at the Old Quarter with the Beef Pho, Spring Rolls and the famous Vietnamese Coffee. I guessed the coffee should keep all of us awake for the whole evening as we welcomed our next day in the city.
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