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Published: December 13th 2017
Vietnam – Hanoi
Goooood morning (well ok evening!) Vietnam!! As I write this we are stuck in notorious Hanoi traffic back to the city from our day trip to the Perfume Pagoda. Today is day 3 of our Hanoi adventure so let's start from the beginning.
Bill, my dad and our friend Andrea flew from Brisbane to Bangkok on Saturday night. It was an uneventful flight, and after a much needed coffee and duty free shop in Bangkok we were on the plane again to Hanoi. This trip is almost a year in the making. After a few days ourselves in Hanoi we will join a 3 week Intrepid trip – Explore Indochina- starting in Hanoi making our way south along the coastline finishing in Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) for the Vietnamese leg, then crossing the border to Cambodia in the second leg of the trip, finishing in Bangkok, Thailand just in time for my birthday where my mum will meet us. Andrea will then fly onto the Philippines and we will spend just over 2 weeks in Thailand.
Hanoi, crazy, hectic, polluted and just a little bit chilly! We got picked up
at the airport by our hotel service. We walked around Hoan Kiem lake while waiting for our rooms. The old quarter of the city, which I expected to be with quaint little streets with wooden houses/doors (similar to Kyoto). However, it just reminds me of little backstreets of Bangkok but much much more busier and hectic! Scooters and people are one- you just need to walk confidently out onto the streets and the scooters and cars will dodge you! The massive street around the lake was closed so we could freely walk around on the street watching kids play a kicking game with a shuttle cock as well as walking on the famous red bridge on the lake. There was also a concert being set up. After we checked in and freshened up a bit, we went for a BBQ dinner up over looking Hoan Kiem lake. Thousands upon thousands of teenagers gathered for this concert – it was massive we had a hard time exiting the building!!
The next day we headed out to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum (which is closed for renovations) so we had a stroll around the gardens and went looking for Ho
Chi Minh's house which was also closed. We saw the changing of the guard which was pretty cool. Our walk took us through the eclectic streets of Hanoi – tiny to no footpaths as they were taken up with scooters to massive footpaths with freelance barbers giving a special Hanoi haircut! Relax time before dinner, I got my nails done and a great foot massage. We had famous Pho for dinner and walked around the lake watching local housewives doing dance exercise classes around the beautifully lit river. After dinner we went to the skybar – on the top of a fancy hotel we indulged in Chilean wine while looking at Hanoi's polluted skyline – apparently its the 2nd worse in the world eek!!
Today we went on a full day tour to the Perfume Pagoda. Once there, we all got in a row boat where a lovely but quite strong young girl rowed out boat of 6 people to our destination. After our delicious included lunch, we caught a cable car to the Huong Tich cave – a massive limestone cave dating back to 1770, which is now a shrine to Quan Yim. The opening of the cave
looks like a dragon's mouth, and people go to the cave to pray and give offering to Quan Yim and indulge in superstitious activities like touching various stones/walls for good luck (I must admit I did too!) Cable ride back down, we went to the Huong Pagoda – or in English the Perfume Pagoda which was great. Very atmospheric which the wood smoke and mist, but not too unlike many pagoda's we visited in Japan. Our guide negotiated a shorter 30 min speedboat ride back (as opposed to the 1 hr row boat ride) back for us. Intense traffic back to Hanoi, and we arrived famished and found a excellent place for dinner – I had Hanoi's speciality Bun Cha – fried pork with rice vermicelli noodles and a herb salad washed down with Hanoi beer - made famous by Barrack Obama and Anthony Bourdain on a recant trip to Hanoi!
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