Hanoi is the big city of the north and the capital of Vietnam. Compared to Saigon, the capital is more laid back and everything happens at a relaxed pace. The food is delicious, and the city is filled with sights and attractions.
When we arrived in the city, we looked for a quick taxi ride to our hostel, but instead got a taxi with a fixed meter and got scammed out of $3 before we even knew where we were. Oh well, these are the lessons you learn quickly in every new city. In hind sight, we've learned not to trust any of the taxis in Vietnam, except for solid green taxis.
Day one was laid back. Besides dinner, we drank coffee and played cards till it was time to kick back with beer instead.
The next day was Danielle's birthday! We visited a millennium old university, a fine art gallery with some great silk art on the top floor, looked at the Soviet meets French meets Chinese architecture of the government buildings and The Ho Chi Mihn mausoleum, and finally went to a water puppet show.
The whole day was made complete with great food. Lunch was eaten on the ground with the local street vendors and dinner was a fine western meal at Green Tangerine.
The last day was spent eating and walking. That night we visited a collection of the local party hostels and rooftop bars for beers and merry making. It was Christmas Eve after all…
The food in Hanoi was absolutly unreal. Besides the normally absolutely delicious pho, bun bo, fried meat donuts, etc, we tried quite a few new dishes.
Bun Cha (a favorite of ours) is a dish that consists of individual plates of cold rice noodles, beef meat balls, fried spring rolls, greens, delicious broth, and a small personal bowl. You take all the ingredients, combine them in your bowl and add chili and garlic. Eat. Repeat. Enjoy.
If you ever visit this city, look up the local food and where to get it. We did our own unorganized food tour and it is worth the extra effort (walking from place to place). If you're eating fried rice here, you're doing it wrong.
Next up Cat Ba Island in Holong Bay.
Thanks for reading,
Grant and Danielle.
P.S. Sorry for the huge gap between posts with little communication. We post when we can (when Internet allows) and we are pretty far behind right now. I hope we can catch up during a rainy or laundry day soon.