So I arrived in Hanoi after taking my first internal Vietnam flight that actually took off on time!
Honestly, I had to pinch myself. You know when you get off a plane after a week in the sun, and the weather you have come home to hits you like a brick to the face? Yeah that. I really felt like I had arrived into Bristol Airport. It was grey, overcast, threatening to rain, and the ground was wet. The only thing that separated it from Bristol was the warmth, it was still in the early twenties, which I was pleased about, the shorts I left Hoian in would have struggled to keep me warm.
After a 30 minute taxi ride I arrived at my hotel to be told my room was not ready. Well it was 11am and check in was not until 2pm so I kind of figured that. I left my main bag and took my very heavy backpack to go for a wander round. Got as far as round the corner, found a nice looking cafe, stopped for lunch. I then got very strange looks from people when I took off my back pack, put it on the chair beside me and clipped the waist belt around the back of the chair. This bag has my life in it, it was not going out of my sight!
Once checked in, I went for a proper look around. My hotel is in the old town, right by a lake. The roads around the lake are pedestrian only.
This place is simply crazy! I can not believe I am still in the same country.
Hanoi seems to have its own energy. The western influence here seems to be much greater, even in the clothes they wear. The old town has very traditional architecture, with just one or two high rise buildings creeping into the skyline.
Walking around the lake was a challenge with the amount of people bustling around. The place was packed. I can only assume it’s because it’s the weekend, but who knows.
The whole area surrounding the lake has stalls, buskers, artists, you name it. This is the most diverse place I have been. I also saw things I didn’t realised I had missed. Like skateboards, first i have seen since arriving out here. Pets too, I only realised today that no one has any pets. Until this afternoon I have not seen anyone walking a dog. It did afterwards occur to me that ‘pets’ over here are probably classed as an evening meal, rathrr than an extended family member.
Anyway everywhere you turned there was something else going on, something to stop and watch. There was a group of people playing some form of game on the road, mapped out with chalk and stones. I stood and watched for ages, and I could not work it out! It was some traditional game they are trying to bring back. Then there was a group of people trying to solve puzzles, then a group of kids and guitars. They were not busking though, just having a jam session with whoever cared to join. Add to it then the families walking, kids on bikes and rollerblades, balloon animal makers, jugglers and the like, it was madness!
Walking around the lake I then stumbled across a stall with a man trying to sell bits and pieces. ‘Cheap tourist tat’ as you would call it. Well as I got a little closer, I could see he was heckling people with a rubiks cube, challenging them to solve it. He picked on the wrong person. I held it for a while, as if to study it, and turned it a few times slowly. He was still heckling, and laughing at me. With that, in true ‘me’ fashion I solved it, fast as I could and placed it back on the table in front of him. Now the very small crowd around me was laughing. He looked a little shocked, but played it off cheering at me. So just then to wind him up, I picked up the cube, re-solved it into a checkboard pattern, (which takes three seconds) and handed it to him. I then smiled at him, turned and walked away. He was not cheering anymore. When I was back in the hustle of the crowd I looked back, he was still studying the cube. I probably came across like an arrogant brat, but you would have appreciated it.
After Walking around the lake I headed out of the pedestrian only zone to walk around the streets. The streets are insanely busy. Just mopeds, rickshaws and people everywhere. I was even nearly involved in a hit and run! Some girl on a moped, she must have been parked somewhere she should have been because the police were chasing her. She kind of made a hair pin turn, and lost control. She came crashing down the pavement wobbling all over the place Straight towards me. This all happened in a split second. I jumped out on the way just in time, not sure how she missed me. Then the police offer almost ran straight into me, which really would have knocked me flying. He gave up the chase and just looked at me, as if to say oh well. Bringing to realise why their driving is so terrible, especially if nothing is enforced.
After my ‘near death’ experience, and walking miles around Hanoi my feet were killing so I headed back to the hotel to chill out for a while.
An hour later it was dark! Went back out in the search for dinner to find it was raining. Raining! Still warm, but that horrible close air when you need a thunder storm to clear it. That and the pollution here seems to be very high. I have been out of high pollution areas for a while now, and it is extremely noticeable. The air feels like that kind of stagnant air when you get on the London underground. Yuck.
Well walking round to see the nightlife is off, and the once crazy busy street had emptied. People were actually using their umbrellas for rain rather rather sun, that’s a first in Vietnam!
Back to the hotel room for me to repack. Some idiot thought it would be a good idea to put their hoodie flat on the bottom of their case. D’oh.
I really hope this weather clears up tomorrow, Halong Bay is supposed to be one of the most impressive sights in the world. If it is as foggy as it has been today I will not be able to see a thing!
Time will tell I guess. Now where are some warmer clothes.
Night dad x