Hanoi, Oh Hanoi
January 27th & 28th, 2017
It was Chinese New Year again and of course I couldn’t just stay home and lounge. This adventure I was accompanied by Amanda. She also loves traveling and getting outside, so when I told her about my Sapa idea she instantly agreed. Yeah, travel buddies!
We left Friday afternoon, got to Vietnam, and got our visas with no problems. Then we started the taxi escapade (insert pissed off looking face). I naively accepted the first taxi offer when we walked out of the airport. My first warning sign was when the guy made us pay to get out of the airport. Then he pulled over to the side of the road to ask us if his friend could take us into town. I argued with him back and worth and he pretty much left us with no choice; either go with his friend or lose a ride. By this time I was pissed. He drove around in a circle until his friend pulled up. He tried to tell us the price and I argued with him some more until the cops showed up and his friend jumped in the car and drove us away. Bullshit like this pisses me off because he made it sound like it was all my choice so I shouldn’t be mad at him. I think I was even more upset that that was Amanda’s first impression of Vietnam, a country I had enjoyed so much that I was there for the second time. Amanda and I were saying later that that taxi ride pretty much represented every stereotype that people have about Vietnamese people. We finally got to the hotel after a crazy drive into the city, and the reception was so nice. It was nice to finally be in our room and in bed.
We woke up, ate breakfast, and got ready for the day. The streets were pretty calm because it was Chinese New Years Day. We walked towards Hoan Kiem Lake and visited Den Ngoc Son temple. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best because they were out with their families, making offerings at the temples, and taking pictures. We continued walking around the lake and saw Tortoise Tower.
We walked out of the Old Quarter and visited the Temple of Literature. It was a beautiful temple and had different sections available for people to walk around. People were buying red banners and getting what looked like their fortune painted onto it and then putting the banner out in the sun to dry. This temple was also packed with people.
We noticed that we still had a lot of the day left to wander around. We walked around the Citadel. We couldn’t go in because it is a restricted area. We eventually got to the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s “dedication area”. It’s actually not called that but I say that because in one area there was Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, House, and Museum. We looked at the One Pillar Pagoda and then sat for a bit and ate an ice cream bar.
We wandered for a little bit and quickly found a cafe to eat at. We both had delicious noodles and Hanoi beer. With full stomachs we walked to a park and just chilled out for awhile.
After awhile we left to go back to the Old Quarter. There we wandered around and then rested at a cafe. I had been people watching a lot all day and wasn’t opposed to more people watching.
We left to walk a little more and then sat down for dinner. We ordered too much food and by the end of the meal I was sooo full.
We made our way to the Ethnic Travel office where we met someone who would be joining our group, a girl from Germany. We still had an hour before we would leave for the train station so we walked around some more. At 8 o’clock we took a taxi to the train station where one of our tour guides, Cho, helped us get on our train. He actually helped us get onto the wrong train! So we ended up switching and settling into our correct cabin. We were in the same room as an older couple from…Italy…I think. They didn’t know any English and I don’t know anyyyy Italian so we couldn’t chat with each other. Eventually, the train started off and we were on our way to Lao Cai! We settled into our beds and went to sleep, or at least I attempted sleep. There was a great adventure in store for us the next day.