We landed in Hanoi and went straight to the hotel to drop our bags and meet our guide. We had a half day to see the city and as with our other days, we weren’t going to let time make us skimp on what we saw.
The traffic was INSANE, and I couldn’t have been closer to our guide when crossing the street. While there are some lights and walking signs, nobody follows the rules of the road, or lack there of. He told us not to look and just walk he same pace of traffic. Some of our stops:
- We walked along the lake and through the alley ways, where all the locals were sitting on the side of the street having lunch.
- Stopped at a quaint restaurant for lunch with our guide for a sampling of local dishes, and also learned some superstitions of the locals (one chopstick on your plate = death, so always make sure you place both on the dish together). HH and I went against doctors orders and finally went in for the fruit. The mango was so good I could eat it everyday.
- A 13.1 mile golf car ride around the lake, with our driver paying more attention to texting than the cars and Vespas coming directly for us in what appeared to be a game of chicken. We gave Dennis the front seat next to the driver to get the full experience.
- Visited a few Pagodas and learned more about Buddhism.
- Walked through the Ho Chi Minh Complex, seeing the tomb where the Vietnam King is laid to rest. We were there for the changing of the guards by chance.
- Went to an ancient Confucius School, where the current students visit about 20 times a year according to our guide. Also, the students about to graduate go there with caps and gowns to take graduation photos to show their teachers (even though they won’t graduate for months, there were hundreds in caps and gowns).
- On the way back to the hotel, our guide bought us street food, wrapped in a banana leaf, and a specialty for the New Year. It was not very appetizing and had a gelatin texture, but we had to try since he bought if for us personally.
- Went by the Hanoi Opera house to catch the cirque de soleil type show, which of course wasn’t playing until the next day so we’d miss it.
Last stop in Hanoi, dinner at Madame Hein. I was hesitant because I have had my fill of rice and noodles, but was pleasantly surprised. The place was adorable, you sat outside in a garden and it looked like the outside of a home. We shared spring rolls and I had chicken skewers as my main course. The woman working there literally took my chicken off the skewer for me and explained everyones dishes. HH got the carmalized prawns in a clay pot and Dennis had the duck 3 ways. We finished it up with our second dessert on the trip – HH and I share bananas 3 ways (fried, banana cake with Carmel ice cream, and a grilled banana with passion fruit sauce), and Dennis had the green tea cake with ice cream.
We had a night cap back at our hotel and then it was off to bed for an early pickup to the bay!
P.S. – our funniest moment of this day is one I won’t share here, but if you happen to catch me for a chat and ask, I’ll give you the joke of the day 😉
#travel #southeastasia #Vietnam