Hanoi, in one word, is chaotic. My first venture out into the streets didn’t last too long as I was scared of being hit by a passing scooter, but once I closed my eyes and just walked it wasn’t so daunting. I was so proud when I managed to cross the road by myself, it was like I was a youngster doing it for the first time again.
Other than the chaos on the roads, there’s chaos on the senses when visiting fresh markets, chaos overhead in the electrical wires, and I’ve never seen so many kitchen goods jammed into a small store as I did when on the search for a bottle opener (talk about needle in a haystack when you don’t speak the language). But in all that chaos, there are so many smiles and laughter, and even the odd piece of tranquility, which is why I would always go back.
For some reason when I came across the motorbike mechanics it took me by surprise, I’m not sure why, but in a city with that many scooters there would be a need for mechanics right? The guys were so happy and excited that I wanted a photo. To me it just captured them and Vietnam.
The Typical Sights
Hanoi is easy to get around, if you’re willing to contend with the scooters and walking in the humidity, if not taxi’s are cheap enough, but I love what I see while walking. Set with a map and a rough idea of where I wanted to go to I set out. I’m not going to sit here and go through the sights, you can pop “must-see Hanoi” into any search engine and they’ll give you a list, but below are some photo’s I took while exploring the city.
The Temple of Literature
The Mausoleum and Presidential Palace
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum was closed the time that I was visiting, but from the outside, it seemed, to me anyway, cold and stark, and I really didn’t mind that I couldn’t enter. If you are in the vicinity though do head to the Presidential Palace next door, it’s like stepping into a French garden. Well with the exception of the soldiers working on their marching; which in itself was entertaining to watch.
“Notre Dame” Cathedral
Actually named St Josephs Cathedral, which is styled on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I visited the real Notre Dame a few years back and couldn’t resist taking the walk to check out the Hanoi version. While no comparison, I loved the leadlights of Notre Dame, I found the real attraction was sitting and watching what was happening in the square; local couples are quite often getting wedding photos taken.
It sounds so wrong, but I had read about it on a blog somewhere and decided it was something that I not only had to search out but try. Armed with a map and a name of the original cafe (Cafe Giang), there’s lot of cafes that now make out but I wanted to find the original, it was my mission one afternoon. Lets just say it was well worth it, and I have even tried to recreate it since being home to no avail.
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son
This was a favourite of mine, and as I took so many photos of my walk around this lake I thought it best to give Turtle Lake it’s own post. So keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.