Monday, 21 January 2013

Hanoi / The start of Vietnam

After our crazy adventures in China, I was looking forward to Vietnam, partly because I had heard how beautiful it was, and partly because I had started to look forward to going places a little more touristy, because we had not met many friends in 7 weeks!

We left China on a night train to Vietnam.  The border change over felt strange but was fairly straight forward, basically everyone had to get of the train in China, then get back on, go a bit further up and then get off the train in Vietnam, get your passport stamped and then your away!

We arrived into Hanoi at 5am and then luckily were allowed into our beds at the hostel straight away.

We had 4 days in Hanoi, and we were quite laid back about our time.  I think you only really need 3 days there in total.

My favorite bits of Hanoi were -

The people.  I loved the Vietnam people, who were so friendly and smiley,after all the country have been through you think they would be suspicious of foreigners, but they graciously accept you into their land.  The way the family's operate is lovely as you see them all gather at meal ties from their various jobs (they all work long hours) and sit on little plastic chairs and eat together, while all the kids laugh and run around.  The sellers are all so nice and friendly and will accept that you don't want something, if you say no.

The food.  I have never tried any sort of Vietnamese food before and I have to say Hanoi was a great place to start!  My favorite was pho and bun cha.  Pho is a rice noodle soup with meat in it, which is really tasty.


Bun cha is really different from everything i had ever tried before.  You were presented with pork, salad, noodles  spring rolls and a pineapple water thing and then you constructed your own meal! Really delicious. And one of my personal favorites the mobile kebab people.  This is not your usual kebab these are the most amazing sandwiches you will ever have!

The way the streets are laid out.  Hanoi is crazy, there idea of urban planing is put everything of the same shop on the same street.  Useful if you want to check several shops for the same thing, not so useful if you need something lets say a light and light street is really far away!  My personal favorite streets were Christmas street (where we were staying), disco light street, and the most terrifying street of all (and the stuff which night mares are made of) Mannequin street!

The water puppet show.  Like going into a crazy dream that's actual real life.  The water show is a mix of tradition  music, puppets, lights and water.   It starts by showing a dragon and fairy (who looks like a bird) falling in love and then giving birth to 100 sons who in turn become the people of Vietnam!  Really weird but really fun.

The traffic.  Its so crazy, you just have to start walking out into traffic slowly and let the motorbikes and scooters swerve around you (there used to it).  It takes abit of getting use to it, as you feel crazy at first, stepping out into such dense traffic!

The parks and lakes.  Really nice places to hang out, and see how the locals live.  And also see all the brides getting their wedding photos taken!  And try and see the last 2 remaining big turtles that live in the lake (we didn't see them!)

The more sobering aspects of Hanoi were visiting the "Hanoi Hilton"  (Ho Lo Prison) - which was a prison during the war for independence from the french and a prisoner of war camp during the american war.  Both of which paint a very real and horrible picture of being imprisoned.

Next stop Halong Bay!


  1. Mannequin street does look a bit creepy! I have heard that about the traffic in Hanoi. You just have to go or else you will be standing on the other side of the street forever.

    1. Yeah mannequin street was really werid. It's just how many shops there were all selling really werid looking 'westernised' mannequins!

  2. Hey Steph, have just been reading through your blog - everything that you have been doing looks brilliant :) Look forward to seeing your further adventures from my cold bedroom in rainy (snowy today!) Manchester. Hopefully we can meet up someday when you return! Rachel xx

    1. I only saw this comment the other day! Been so bad, haven't been checking my blog at all, I need to start doing it again, but NZ has been crazy. Its now my fave place in the world, I'm seriously thinking of moving here! When you guys getting back to the UK? And did you get that big job in London? Of course we will be meeting up again! I love you guys!