After just an hour of flying, we came into land over Hanoi.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. But only the second largest city. I have been warned by several other travellers about the local people here – ripping you off, taking you to places where you don’t want to go and stealing from you. Apparently taxi drivers being amongst the worst.
So, to avoid the hassle, I arranged for my hotel to pick me up at the airport. Easy.
The drive from the airport was nearly an hour, so by the time I reached the hotel it was already 8.30pm. The streets here are busy, but actually looks a lot like covent garden on a Friday evening!!
Wednesday 27 February 2013
Hanoi is chaotic!
I’m staying in the middle of the old town. Small streets weaving in and around each other in a total maze. Pavements have stalls and cafes spilling out onto them and motorbikes parked up in their hundreds. The tiny roads, barely one lane wide have motorbikes zooming up and down and around in circles.
Crossing the road here is rather daunting. Motorbikes zooming long, cars bigger than everyone else pushing past and bicycles creeping up behind you. The are crossings marked on most roads. These mean nothing. You just have to go. You step out into the road and walk slowly and all the motorbikes find their way around you. The first couple of times were a bit scary, but it works! As long as you don’t stop and keep going at a slow constant pace. If you stop, or hurry up, that just confuses people!
Streets here have their own particular trade. As I wandered around, the shoe street turned into the powdered milk street, then a toy shop street, a wool street, a metal cage things street, a party shop (chinese decorations) street, a clothes street. Every corner was something new!
And in the middle of all the chaos, a small temple Bach Ma (but was closed every time I went past). I got totally lost. The food market followed in theme with rest of the area and was totally chaotic. Food spilling out onto the streets. All kinds of shell fish I have never even seen before and fruits and vegetables everywhere. The market doesn’t just stay still. Women wander the streets with baskets hung over their shoulders selling mostly fruits. I found a pineapple lady and i was shocked when quoted 150k for a pineapple (£5!!!) does she think I’m stupid?! I walked away. And was actually surprised when she came running down the street after me now asking for 20k (60p – the sensible normal price!).
A small oasis in the middle of the crowds, Hoan Kiem lake. There is a superstition that a giant golden turtle lives in the lake. The Ngoc Son temple is set on an island towards the northern side of the lake. Aside from the novelty of a red bridge over to reach this small island, it wasn’t all that exciting!
The chaos and noise lasts all day and into the night. At night time, the streets are alive with people in their hundreds sat along the streets on tiny plastic seats drinking bier hoi. This is a local fresh beer and is fairly cheap at around 30p per glass.