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Our Hanoi holiday was really a spontaneous one. Chris asked me on a Saturday night and the next thing I know was, I’m on the plane with him the following Thursday!
I never see this coming and both of us never thought that we would be paying Hanoi a visit this soon.
Furthermore, there was warnings on the Ketsana Typhoon that hit Vietnam during our time of visit. We were blessed. It didn’t affect Hanoi. 5 days of maximum sunshine!
Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, lies on the banks of the Red River and is the second-largest city of Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh. Once occupied dominantly by the Chinese and French plus moments with the Japanese too, Vietnamese culture is just very comprehensive.
#2 We saw the action-packed motorcyclists without-the-traffic-lights performance. I could just closed my eyes tight and cross the road with Chris hand-in-hand. I assure you it’s safe. All you hear is the sounds of honks tootling away like a common melody that most people know in Vietnam.
Hanoi old quarter with all the traffic of scooters are typical to the Vietnamese congested city centers. Here, no rule seem to apply however, it seems to work pretty well overall surprisingly.
#3 Sofitel Plaza Hanoi - this was where we stayed.
Luxury with a French flair. Located at the heart of Hanoi close to the old quarter, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi has a long history of being a luxury place for many prestigious events and popular rendezvous. With its charming interior, this hotel blends the warm Vietnamese hospitality with the European luxury heritage offering comfortable rooms and good services.
View from the room at night
#4 We got introduced to the Vietnamese Coffee for the first time here in Sofitel Hanoi. Enjoying a cuppa before departing out for lunch was sure revitalizing. Oh, I’m not a big fan of coffee.
A real treat, especially for those who enjoy their coffee strong and sweet.
It comprises of a vietnamese filter, which is a small coffee pot. It looks like a hat and sits upon the top of a coffee cup. Inside is a chamber for coffee and room for hot water. It is very basic and simple, and works!
#5 Late lunch at Bánh Tôm Hồ Tây (direct translation: Restaurant WEST LAKE shrimp cake?)
Located in famous tourism area of Hanoi like the Co Ngu Road, Tran Quoc pagoda and along Ho Tay lake (West Lake), this restaurant offers snacks and delights that I adore, especially the traditional Ho Tay Shrimp Cake.
Crunchy Prawn Fritters
Sweet, Sour and Spicy dipping sauce for the prawn fritters. Very appetizing.
I heart Ho Tay Shrimp Cakes!
The famous Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Smoked ham and egg Salad
Beef Noodles – more like Beef Sang Mee
Seafood Fried Rice
Fresh Grilled Prawns. We were treated like kings, the staffs helped to remove the shells in front of us.
#6 Water Puppet Show
According to the Vietnamese, if you haven’t visit the Water Puppet Theater, you have not been to Vietnam. Harmonizing with Vietnamese folk music, trying to control and manipulate the puppets movements using a long pole against resistance of the water is kinda tough. We did not understand a word as the folk songs was in Vietnamese, therefore it’s difficult for us to follow the story line.
#7 Dinner at Dinh Lang Thuy Ta Restaurant – the Ancient Village’s Communal House
It was a very cultural restaurant, with great ambiance and settings. There were performers playing and singing folk songs to the Vietnamese traditional musical instruments throughout our dinner session.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls again. This time with a better presentation
Poached Chicken – you can’t compare this to the Ipoh version. haha.
Pho - Vietnam’s national Soup. I have a new favourite again as I love the Vietnam Pho! This one was served with lotsa crab roe. More on Pho in upcoming posts
We don’t really fancy the way the Vietnamese steamed their fish. Just passable, but very presentable though. Lined on top of the fish was the net cut up from carrots.
#8 Night Walk along Markets & Street Ambling
This street that stretches a long way is worth a visit for some crafty bargains. From wooden crafts, silks and ethnic-like souvenirs, shopping for these are at ease. However, I would still prefer shopping at BKK. *looking forward for more leaves* I personally do not fancy the outmoded fashion here. Chris and I tried digging out such place, but it left us with disappointment. We wanted to shop so badly but we ended up saving lots ;P
Hanoi has winter season too, but it was hot and dry during our visit or else we would be shivering from an unseasonal cold spell courtesy of weather sweeping in from China.
P/S: the people here all so thin lah!!
Being a bystander/ tourist, both of us realized the lifestyle difference immediately. Hanoi is targeting huge poverty reduction and we believe it’s still continuing. The bitter struggles of the past have not been forgotten, but with a young, optimistic population (lots of young people here) a bustling city filled with proud locals and ever-increasing numbers of smitten tourists is happening now.
I noticed they are rich now.