Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2012’

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Arriving at my final destination was overwhelming.  When my sister and other people told me that its a city that is busy, I underestimated them. Crossing a street is no joke. Hi Chi Minh was nothing compared to Hanoi. I felt like I was going to see my last days on the streets of Hanoi the way I was soo petrified of crossing. But after some time, I mastered it. I realise that all I needed to do was just walk and that the motorbikes will make a plan., and they sure did.

Staying at Hanoi Backpackers was the best choice ever. It is situated in the Old Quarter. After checking in we went to the market where they literally were selling chickens that had just been slaughtered and other strange animals. It had the feel of an old market. People were sitting on the floor and everything was sold from the floor and not on tables. What was great was that you can walk through the market and you exit onto a main road, so exciting.

We then decided to walk the rest of the day but could not continue without having a beer break. Because you can drink and walk in Vietnam, we walked into a convenience stores and each bought three beers. We stopped at the Hoam Kiem Lake which is sooo beautiful. Our stop ended up being quite entertaining when Aurelien was approached to have his shoes shined. Him and the shoe guy agreed on a price, but once the job was done the price shot up to $40. Such chancers.  Jono and I were entertained to see how Aurelien was going to get himself out of the situation. Eventually he did. Sitting by the river was exactly what we needed.

Art galleries was then our next stop. Aurelien wanted to buy a painting so we spent time going in and out of galleries, one thing that Hanoi is famous for.

It started to rain so we ended up finding a place to go have lunch and more beers of course. ‘BEER O’CLOCK’ was calling again. After that we all needed to get some rest before a big night out as Janine, Jono and Paul were heading off to Halong Bay. I missed out because the boat was arriving back to Hanoi when my flight back to Bangkok was scheduled for. I was rather bleak so I made sure that I had an epic night.

One thing about the evenings is that they are much calmer. The place feels completely transformed. We found a place which was on the corner of the street. Beers were 3000d, just my cup of tea. Paul then suggested that we drink out of a shoe, some tradition from some country, I can’t remember. So a new pair of shoes was bought and we each took turns drinking out of the shoe. It was soo silly but we had soo much fun doing it. That night we went bar hopping and drinking loads more beer. It was our farewell seeing everyone was going their separate ways. I was bleak, very bleak. I had made such amazing friends, met Jono who traveled Vietnam with me and our journey was ending. So we ended it off true trooper style.

The next day I spent partly on my own and with Aurelien. One thing about Hanoi is even with a map, the streets are so darn confusing. Be prepared to get lost a couple of times. I spent doing touristy stuff, I went to visit the Ho Chi Minh museum which is filled with contemporary artifacts as well as paintings. I have never seen such beautiful and detailed paintings before. We spent about 3 hours there. You definitely cannot rush and don’t want to. There is soo much history and knowledge in there its unbelievable. I developed a new sense of appreciation for art.

Then I read that there were a few dished you have to try when in Hanoi. So I opted for a fish dish called Cha ca la vong I hope I have the spelling right. It was fish with peanut and some fish. Probably my most expensive meal in Asia., but I was leaving soon so I had to try it out. I can say I have ticked off one of the 100 things you need to do before you die.

I then just walked the streets and got myself lost quite a couple of times. Bought pineapple from the ladies selling it and just roamed.

The highlight of the day was that I realised I was sharing a dorm with a fellow South African from Cape Town, Abbey and then met another Canadian in our dorm who had quit his job and was traveling for a year. You have to love meeting people. The stories you share are priceless.  Abbey introduced me to some people she also met and then we all decided to go out. We found a spot not too far from the hostel. A kebab spot was there so we ordered pork kebabs and drank 3000d beers. It was my last night there so it was sure to be an adventure.

As I sat there laughing, sharing stories and taking in the moment, I realised that I could not have asked for more.  Hanoi was my last stop in Asia and my last place I could experience pure joy. I spent my last day having breakfast with Abbey and wondering the streets to get in at least some bit of shopping. It was in that on this day I found myself walking down the streets smiling with myself. I was happy, I was blessed, I had joy in my heart, embarked on the best and most meaningful trip of my life.

I truly experienced adventure, I immersed myself in every situation. I tried different things. I learned more about myself. I made life long friendships. I did it on my own.

I’m notorious for ending off my holidays coming back home with no money. That is how I know I have had MAD times. A trip of a lifetime. I had to fly out back to Bangkok. No brainier that I would be overweight, but the only problem is that I didn’t have money to pay for my fine. So I spent 20 minutes negotiating. I had to spare money for the airport for one last meal and beers. I couldn’t bare having to leave my belongings behind considering I had to cart two bags through Asia, it wasn’t happening. Eventually the official realised he wasn’t getting anywhere and they were telling him that they need to close check in. I ended up paying $20 out of the $70. It aint an adventure if everything runs smoothly. Word of advice, don’t be silly and travel two different continents on one holiday thinking you can get away with two bags.

I have unfinished business with Halong Ba, so I will be back.  Thank you a million times for the best times of my life. Hanoi was the perfect place for me to bow out of the most epic holiday I have ever been fortunate enough to be on. Vietnam lived up to the great reviews. Asia is perhaps my favourite holiday destination, and I know that before the year ends, I will be back in Asia.

 

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