Hanoi

If I could describe Hanoi in one word it would have to be: HOT!

After visiting Egypt in summer I thought nothing would ever be as hot as that, but I was wrong. Hanoi was not only hot but incredibly humid. At 6am it was already 35 C, and it was never any lower than that. Yet I absolutely loved it!

Hanoi surprised me in many ways. I found it easier to navigate in than HCM, there is a nice park in the middle of the Old Quartet ┬áthat makes for a nice spot to sit and enjoy the 10 ice creams that I ate every day and it was haven for shopping! In general I don’t particularly enjoy shopping, but I absolutely love it in South East Asia!

I spent 3 days in Hanoi and while I was there I went to a water puppet show. A traditional Vietnamese show that originated in the north of the country, but has now expanded to the south as well. The best part of the show was seeing the looks in the little Vietnamese boy that was sitting besides me, he was in complete awe. I also walked a lot around the old part of the city and really enjoyed how all the streets in the Old Quartet are specific to a particular product or trade. So there is one street that sells shoes and only shoes, so if you don’t find what you are looking for chances are you are not going to find them anywhere else (I got 4 pairs!), there is a street that sells spices, another that sells carpets and rugs and so on. Just enjoyed my day shopping, walking, eating and sweating.

Hanoi also had lovely cafes and restaurants which also totally surprised me because in some places I seriously thought I was in France, but had forgotten than Vietnam has been influenced by France since at some point in its history it was actually a territory of France. I also visited the Temple of Literature a nice little temple that takes you away from the noise that Hanoi is 24 hours a day. Yet, the most interesting place for me was Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, one of the city’s main attractions where you can actually the man in the flesh mummified and behind a thick glass casket while surrounded by 6 soldiers. I have never been a fan of seeing mummified people. True story: when I was maybe 6 or 7 I went into a mummy museum, I had no idea what I was getting myself into so I insisted on going.. BIG mistake, the second I entered that place I panicked and to this day I can still remember exactly how some of those mummies looked like. Warning: Children SHOULD NOT be allowed into mummy museums! So long story short I didn’t go in, BUT I couldn’t get over how tight security was and how big the building is considering that Ho Chi Minh himself said that he didn’t want to have anything built upon his death, well someone did not listen to him. I also got whistled at for walking on the painted line 5 meters away from the sidewalk and 1km away from the building that is supposed to be off limits.

My favourite memory from Hanoi was having dinner the very last night I was there and my last night before returning to Japan. I had dinner at this place that could barely be described as a restaurant. Just a couple of tables and some upturned buckets, but the best food I have ever had! You go in and point at things and they bring you the food and they keep tabs on you and then you pay at the end. Met the cutest Japanese couple from Hakkaido. It was so refreshing to see them, eating with the locals unfazed by the cleanliness of the place, eating probably some of the spiciest food they have ever had and just totally in their element. I tried my 3 words of Japanese they told me my Japanese was amazing (LIES!) and they spoke some English so in a very Japanese way we ordered out food, finished up sharing and then fought over who would pay the $9 US bill for 3 people, drinks included. We had an outright great time and it was a great way to get me excited about getting back to Japan.

Keeping you posted!