Oh crikey! Blinking flip! Well I never! Hanoi!!!!!! HANOI!!!!!!!! Randall, you’re not going to like this at all, but I think Hanoi is one of the very best cities we’ve been to this year!!!! It is just magnificently mental, crazy, chaotic, buzzing, vibrant, historic, soooooo friendly, a visual feast of colour, and outrageously cheap! What a day we’ve had!
We started with a choice of cooked breakfasts (remember, £7.50 a night) before going on a two hour walk around the Old Quarter, as suggested and routed in the Lonely Planet guide. It’s just brilliant! Not picturesque or stunning, but so full of life and busier than anywhere else we’ve been. And then you’ll just stumble across a spectacular pagoda or a temple. The history here is very important. We’ve learnt that the easiest way to cross the roads is to just walk forward slowly, with your eyes closed, and miraculously the traffic somehow parts! It’s like a shoal of fish that never clashes! The streets are chock ablock with people, bikes, scooters and cars, and you can’t walk on the pavements as every bit of space is being used! Manic! Each street seems to specialise in its own thing – eg clothes, shoes, sunglasses, hardware, haberdashery, black smiths(!), kitchen equipment, door handles. The stainless steel area was amazing, with everything being made right there on the pavement. I could just imagine going into a shop and saying “I’d like a desk/oven/work top, incorporating all 3 things, 46.78″ x 300.54cm x 12 foot, made by a left handed craftsman, aged 76, with 36 grandchildren” and I’ve no doubt that the answer would be “ok sir, you gif me twenny minnit, and I haf it done fo yooooo!” The work and welding that was going on on those pavements was incredible! It put Sheffield Steel to shame!!!! So at the end of that we treated ourselves to a ridiculously expensive milk shake (£1) before going for a little rest back at the hotel. Then, when feeling a bit peckish, we went to a restaurant just two doors away, in which the owner/chef had been a competitor on Master Chef Vietnam!!! We both had the most expensive items on the vast menu (£3 each), polished off with a 500ml bottle of Tiger beer at 29p!!!!!!!!!! TWENTY NINE BLOODY PENCE!!!!! You could go out, have a shed load of beer, and still have change for the bus home with £3!!!!! And the food was little short of spectacular! We may very well be there again later tonight!
Its cloudy at the moment, and often raining but only for 1 minute at a time. But it’s still oppressively hot and humid! I look forward to the rain so that my sweat ridden t shirt finally looks like everyone else’s!
After the meal, we did another huge long walk, taking in Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum (unfortunately closed “for restoration to his body”!). But we ventured into the real back streets, well away from any other western faces, and brilliantly found ourselves in an indoor food market. Apart from the amazing sights we saw in there, what made this particularly entertaining was the fact that even though it is indoors, people were still riding around on their scooters in there! Mental!!!!! Eventually we arrived back at the hotel, and have just had a few bottles of Halida beer in a nearby bar (still 29p each of course).
This place is incredible, and I’m totally taken with it! Can’t wait to see the rest of Vietnam! This is something really special, and just leaves me with a constant smile on my face! Tomorrow, off to Halong Bay for 3 days/2 nights on a sailing trip! Aha me hearties!!!!!! Shiver me timbers!!!