I’ve realised there is rather a large gap in my blog which is Hanoi.
Ive mentioned some of our experiences but I don’t think I’ve given any real in sight into the City itself, which is a mistake as it is a great place to visit.
Admittedly we only saw the Old Town and I’m aware there is a lot more to it than just that but I suspect the Old Town is the place most people will think of when they plan a visit.
When we first arrived It seemed like Hell on Wheels.
It is busy, noisy, chaotic, Slightly anarchic and we were at first a bit over whelmed.
We made the basic mistake of taking the Hotels Map (which doesn’t show all the roads, isn’t to scale and has such small writing you cant actually read it without a Magnifying Glass) and went out, in the dark, to explore.
There was an added complication. It was Sunday evening and there is a Night Market so all the streets are transformed and don’t comply with the stereotype portrayed on the map.
We obviously got immediately lost and spent several hours Criss crossing the streets looking for our Hotel, which we missed several times by’A Gnat’s Nudger.’
The next morning in the light of day we gradually found our feet and expanded our range of terrain until at the end we were fairly confident of where we were and how to get back.
The next thing to say is that the people are great, helpful and friendly without being in your face. They are basically a bit reserved so if anyone approaches you and starts a conversation you can bet your grannies Virginity they will try to sell you some thing.
Most street sellers are friendly and if you say No politely will let you get on your way, though there are some rules.
If you look them in the eye you are saying.”Im yours Baby” and they will try to sell you something.
Holding is owning.
If they put something in your hand (a bag of Doughnuts for example) it s then yours and you will be expected to pay for it, probably over the top too. If you want to buy something, ask the price first, haggle and be prepared to walk away. it is when you are almost out of ear shot that you get the actual price of goods.
Don’t fall for the “you have something wrong with your shoe” trick.
These guys have Equity cards.
The dramatic way they react when they realise you are wearing a broken flip flop is incredible. You would think they actually wrote the Health and Safety Policy for tourist footwear.Its a scam, the same as when the old lady carrying two trays balance on a bamboo pole over her shoulder offers to let you try carrying it. Then you owe her money.
When you are invited to ‘Take a picture’ they do expect to be paid one US dollar for the privilege. Our response has been to ask them to pay us one US dollar before we take their Photo, then they aren’t so keen.
The food is fantastic, great restaurants.
Don’t be frightened to eat at street stalls or the local restaurants (where everyone sits on tiny little plastic stools) the only risk is that you cant get back up.
Take a Rickshaw ride but be aware they follow the same old route and you will be in a huge gaggle of other tourists doing the same thing.
We stayed in the Blue Hanoi Inn Hotel which was well positioned, clean and welcoming. Staff were fantastic, extremely helpful though the Hotel lacked a few refinements and the restaurant left a bit to be desired, but the staff were great.
In summary. We loved every minute of our time in Hanoi despite some of the photo’s Jaki has posted in which i look thoroughly miserable.
I had a great time and I was sorry to leave.