Arriving into Hanoi jet-lagged and overwhelmed by mopeds, there was only one thing on our minds: get us to the pho!
We eat a lot of pho back home so we were extremely excited to try out the real thing in Vietnam. And oh boy, did it exceed our expectations. Well-fed and suitably hydrated with a nice bottle of Bia Hanoi, we headed out to explore the city. We’d been told so many times about the motorbikes in Hanoi that, to be honest, we were half expecting to find it all a big exaggeration. Trust me, it’s not.
Crossing the road is nothing short of an adventure in Hanoi. I still don’t really understand how you’re supposed to go about it, but we went with the tactic of sticking as close behind a local as possible, stepping out in front of the least scary looking vehicles and just praying they avoided us. Somehow the traffic flows around you like some kind of noisy, scooter filled river and you emerge out the other side untouched. This will take some getting used to…
Trying to avoid the mayhem of the old town, we stuck to exploring the beautiful Hoan Kiem lake and the Thap Rua pagoda on our first day, with many, many stops for Bia Hanoi on the way.
The next day, we took a a short interlude to Halong Bay and arrived back to New Year’s Eve chaos in the city. A bar crawl with our hostel turned into some drum and bass in a little Vietnamese club, culminating in some roadside beers and the most incredible Banh Mi, which is now officially my favourite drunken snack. The evening ended with an amusing encounter with the curfew police who sparked panic up and down the streets by turning up at 1am with whistles and batons, demanding everyone shut up shop.
New Year’s Day saw us heading out to explore some more of Hanoi. Feeling slightly hungover from the night before, we sought some solitude at the Peace Pagoda before making our way to the station for our overnight train to Dong Hoi.