The happiest we probably were for the next 23 hours. Poor sleep and gastric function on the way!
I (Nathan) write this first post from a mildewy stayover we had to find in Sa Pa at 4am. Bonus: we took the night bus an hour in the wrong direction. Chalk that up to miscommunication, but its a cool misty area in the mountains at the gateway to many hill tribe communities, which is why we're here. I digress. This post is about Hanoi.
The endeavor that began on 25 May at 12:05 pm in Dallas arrived at 9:50pm on 26 May, Hanoi time. The layover in Tokyo was decent considering everything is still shut down there due to Covid precautions. There was one restaurant open serving 5 things, otherwise you basically had duty free. We ate and drank well, believe it or not on the American flight to Tokyo because I requested the Hindu special meals, which were really nice. Bloody marys did flow, AND we got an upgeade to bullkhead for free on account of the honeymoon.
Hanoi's airport was immaculate, we got through customs decently fast except for getting the one Gestapo agent's queue, who had Abby's visa undergo manual review, and our $11 transfer got us to Hotel Sinfonia del Rey in the French
Hindu Special Meal
God I suck at taking pictures. It all tasted great.
Quarter in no time.
Y'all, this hotel is unbelievable. From the staff to the rooms to the breakfast and rooftop bar they have it all dialed in. We're trying to stay with them for a measly 6 hours on the way down to the coast in 36 hours because they were just that damned accomodating .
Hanoi, itself is a very friendly metroplex, with plenty of amazing architecture in Hoan Kiem, the Old Quarter/French Quarter, quietly giving way to the reclamation of the lowland jungle the city does its best to keep at bay. The rains were fierce and frequent, but also shortlived, cutting through the indominable heat of midday that never really, fully dissipates after dark. Flowers and water are everywhere, as are tourists, motorbikes and unyielding traffic that the pedestrians dance through with inches to spare, crosswalks and traffic lights be damned. Amidst it all, the smog slowly grates you down even faster than heat and 99% humidity would do of their own volition, till the tickle in your throat becomes a cough, and you thank all the temples and towers and Buddha's jolly belly itself that in spite of the outpouring of street food and
Delirum is setting in
gracious smiles, you set off from Hanoi on a sleeper bus renown for their dangerous track record for the mountain airs of Bac Ha in all its folkloric majesty.
We had pho in the hotel that beats anything Ive ever tasted before. We had Bun Cha (pork and rice noodles in sweet and sour broth due to the local obsession). I wasn't as transfixed as Bourdain and Obama, but Abby killed hers, as well as most of the Mud Creeper snails (Oç) that came in butter sauce with corn and chilis. We also found a craft brewery that is making better beer than most of what Ive tasted recently back home, with a proper cultural spin to create Passionfruit IPA, Dragonfruit Gose and a damned fine Saison.
Aside from breakfast and the snails, I held over mainly on beer; surprise surprise. My hesitancy to dive in harder on our first day is 100% rumblegut and airplane bloat related, so for now I'm powering down water and rice liquor to even it out as Abby males up for a lack of sleep on the midnight deathcoach run by Sao Viet, which was immaculate inside, for the record, I would
Sweaty, gross, and somehow still behind asleep, we murdered 6 Ha Noi Bias and hit the hay smelling awful and I actually set an 8:00 alarm to go get sim cards.
risk it again on a company by company basis.
The better half will be adding to this soon, if anyone is following, and will probably take the lead on the next post. We enter the thick of it today, and in much cooler weather. Wish us luck, and pass on the link to those who might like the updates!
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