If you want to see Vietnam in its most local form (but in a major city), try Ha Noi. Coming from Siem Reap where the city is reliant on tourism, Ha Noi is a breath of....well, not exactly fresh air. The air is certainly not fresh, but my observing eyes are refreshed. It is chaotic and non-Western. Crazy but organized. English-less and tourist-mild.
We spent the first day finding a jacket for Srin...you read that right. We came from perfect weather (and I do mean girl-perfect. Dress-wearing perfect.) in Cambodia to be greeted by cold Vietnemese weather. And stupid us assumed all of Southeast Asia would all be nice and warm. We were not even smart enough to check the weather in Singapore before we left (and mind you, we have nice winter wear for our Everest trip but guess where we left it?) And thus, I bring you to our day one plans.
We are staying in the Old Quarter where our boutique hotel is quite nice but affordable. We walked around, barely able to read the signs (well, we can read them but remembering the names is difficult...Hang Dieu...Hung Be...Dang Nam (Thank you Eddie Murphy)...) and found ourselves at the markets. After following a recommendation for an all vegetarian dinner spot, I got me the famous Vietnemese local dish called 'pho' all vege-tized. Yummo! And that was pretty much day one. The rest of the Ha Noi sights will be done via a local student-based tour from Hanoikids on Tuesday.
We are off to Ha Long tomorrow where we will traipse to the waters of the Ha Long Bay. Yay for cold water.
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Location:Ha Noi, Vietnam