Hanoi (Vietnam) First Impressions. Get to know all about it!

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Hello everyone!
Im back today with another Travel/Lifestyle post, this one’s all about my first impressions of Hanoi Vietnam.

Travel:

Think of the busiest place you know, Westfield shopping centre, being at the front of your favourite festival, leaving the stadium after the match finishes. There, Hanoi. Put all those people on bikes and take away most of the rules when it comes to driving and you can fully understand how it feels to be on a scooter in the middle of the Old Quarter. It is mayhem to a new driver. Everyone needs to get somewhere and an inch of space is the perfect opportunity for someone to sneak by you and disappear up the road. I think the only way i can describe how it feels to be on a bike in the middle of Hanoi is, it’s like being in a real life Crash Bandicoot game, anyone could swerve around and in front of you at any minute, there may be someones cardigan dropped ahead that you need to swerve from and U-turns are a given here, so watch out for those bikes coming towards you down that ‘one way’ street.
That being said, after you get used to the mindset, being a driver in Hanoi is actually quite enjoyable. It’s always fascinating to see new places, as you drive around. There’s a sense of accomplishment too, like YEAH, i CAN do it. I CAN drive here!

Food:

Oh my, now the food here. Hanoi is overwhelmed with smells. Both good and bad but find a good place and the food is just incredible!
We have eaten at so many different places here in Hanoi both traditional and Western. Moving to Hanoi i was originally very nervous about what i would find to eat. This is because i am somewhat  picky with food to start with. I don’t eat red meat, i barely like any spices, i don’t really like dressings or sauces. I’m a foodies worst nightmare. So you can imagine when i see ‘mixed meat’ on the menu i am less than excited to know what they class as mixed meat, however I’m currently trying to live with a ‘well you only live once’ outlook on life, so you know what i ordered? That mixed meat rice. It was delicious. I did only notice tofu and chicken in it (which was lucky) but it was truly yummy. Naomi has taken to eating Pho at any opportunity and for only 30,000vnd a bowl (that’s £1.09) it’s more than incredible value.
One day after work we went to a Vietnamese place with work friends and i suddenly realised i am actually no where neat as adventurous as i first thought. As they brought out Goat, baby birds, stingray and other impressive and petrifying foods. I felt myself coward back to the comfort of my tiger beer and rice paper rolls. I tried some of the sting ray and i must say it was tasty!

Sights:

Hanoi is rich in culture. It’s such a beautiful place to explore. I love our journey to work because we travel about half an hour away from our little Tay Ho bubble and in that journey i notice new sights every trip. If you have a bike take some time to go explore. There’s so many wonderful places to seek out. Including but not limited to the museums. Within our first week in Hanoi we had done three museums, in particular i enjoyed the Women’s Museum. Learning about the history of the Vietnamese housewife, the mother, the dress makers and the women who served in the Army. I felt incredibly emotional come the end of the museum. I really recommend going to this museum when you are in Hanoi.
I must also point out one of my favourite ‘sites’ to enjoy en route to work are other people’s bikes! It’s amazing how much people load onto two wheels.

I wanted to share with you some of my other favourite sights below;

The Districts:

Within Hanoi the city is broken down into smaller chunks, these chunks are known as districts. The most popular two you may know about before arriving at The Old Quarter and Tay Ho. The old quarter is what you want to explore if you’re travelling here. The old quarter is home to Lake Hoan Kiem aka ‘lake of the returned sword’.

Here is where you can sit and watch the traffic zoom around whilst having a beer up on the rooftops. You can wander for hours down the different themed streets that are adjacent to Hoan Kiem. You can watch the  water puppet theatre shows, get your hands on the best kinds of souvenirs and find some incredible places to eat. Perhaps what I love the most about the Old Quarter is the people, Vietnamese run businesses are the only kind here. Very traditional.

Tay ho on the other hand is quite the opposite. It’s known as the bubble here because of the ability to live in Hanoi without leaving Tay Ho. Here is home to most of the expats. It’s full of teachers, i say this as i too a new teacher now live amongst all my colleagues here in the Tay Ho bubble. Around here you are likely to hear more American, English, and South African accents than anything else. Unless you meet our door man, he speaks no english and our conversations are beautiful engagements of us nodding and pretending to understand each other. Tay ho has some amazing bakeries, inspired by the french, there’s a few places i have come to love along To Ngoc Van.

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I could honestly go on forever about how i feel living in Hanoi but i will leave you here for now. If you would like to hear more about my life here, do leave a comment and don’t forget to follow me on Youtube! because that’s a thing I’m doing now.

Thanks for reading

Danielle Jade.

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How to survive moving to a new place in 5 steps! 

Ok hello again everyone!

I’ve just recently moved to Hanoi and don’t get me wrong as amazing as it feels now…adjusting was harder than I imagined it was going to be. 

That’s why I’m here to give you all an insight to how I’ve dealt with moving and share some tips on how to make it easier for all of you with my 5 little hints! 

  1. Don’t hide your emotions. Now is not the time to put on a brave face. Being emotional does not make you vulnerable, being emotional makes you a person. You have to be prepared to not find everything easy right now. Moving to a new place is going to send your emotions crazy, and be prepared these emotions will hit you very easily every, day, hour,minute and if you’re like me…second.You are taking yourself away from your natural habitat, stripping yourself of your comforts and jumping into a whole new lifestyle so if you want to go ahead and cry. CRY.  Let it out- it’s justified.
  2. Take it one day at a time. STOP, thinking about 6 months from now because i will guarantee your immediate emotions and feelings to your new surroundings are going to change six months down the line. As humans we can instantly pick up and focus on the negatives so you know what, go ahead list all the things you don’t like about this new place! It smells weird, say it. It sounds different, say it. You don’t speak the language, say it. Get it out. Now think, what did you expect?. Moving to a new place is going to bring different smells,sounds & sights. Now look around, what do you like? What has made you smile, what has made you curious, what has made you feel comfortable? Hold on to those thoughts! Keep them. These are your new comforts.
  3. Explore. Go out, go look around. Go and say hello to some people, go and indulge in the culture, go and walk around where the locals are. Find areas you like, parks, lakes, rivers, museums, bars, restaurants. Explore different locations, different areas at different times of the day. Find a place that you feel comfortable in, and settle there for a while. This will instantly put you at ease, setting up at a hostel, hotel or apartment you can see yourself enjoying will make a world of difference. This is where you will retreat to. This is your sanctuary so make sure you’re comfortable.
  4. Language. If you’re moving to a new county then you should try and learn some of the basic phrases used there. You’re going to feel incredibly small landing in a country that is speaking a different language, so learn thank-you, learn hello, learn phrases that show gratitude. This will make you look polite and also like you are at least attempting to fit in in your new place. Something that will be highly respected by the locals. The last thing you want is to look like you have moved to a new country with an idea that the world owes you something. Universally, manners cost nothing. 
  5. Travel. Now immediately stop stressing because google maps has got us all sorted here. So the age old, i don’t know where i’m going, is a thing of the past. You can literally get from A-B with ease now, it’s all right there. Another incredible app (but limited to certain places) is Citymapper, now i even used to use this in my home country, from bus times, to tube times, to walking directions, ordering an uber and fin be out in real time how long it takes to get from place to place city mapper has you covered. Uber again is a key app to have downloaded! It really does work globally! Here in Vietnam you can get uber bike, you will literally be on the back of someone’s motorbike. 

I hope this helps you all! I think it has really helped me in the long run.
Stay beautiful, 

Danielle Jade x 

10 ways to survive that dreaded long haul flight.

1.Choose your seat wisely. Ideally if you can choose a seat before you check in do it. Or turn up early and make sure you get a seat with whoever you are travelling with. Don’t be left alone on a flight thats going to take a while.
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2. Following up on that, if you can get a seat without anyone in front of you, do it. The last thing you want is what happened to me. (A guy thinking it’s completely acceptable to recline his seat onto my lap, wanna just come hop on over and spoon me whilst you’re at it? – if you can’t already tell, i was not impressed)

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3. SNACKS. SNACKS. SNACKS. Plane food, is NOT the win. Now i know some people are fine with that solid bread roll but i, i just cant compare it to an actual edible piece of bread so i take snacks. Sweet & Savoury and a whole lot of water. Keep hydrated.
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4. Try to set your body clock whilst you’re in the air. If it’s 11pm where you’re landing then you should be sleeping on that plane. Try to keep with what time of the day/night it would be in the country you’re about to touch down in.
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5. Wear comfy clothes. The plane is not a catwalk, you’re not going to look your best after being squashed in one seat for a long time anyway so the least you can do is give yourself the most comfort and embrace life in those comfy jumpers/leggings/baggy tee’s whatever it is you feel good in.
ALWAYS keep a jacket though, the air-con is going to hit you at one point so take something you can wrap up in should you need it.
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6. Get up and walk around. You should try to keep as active as possible, stretch your legs. Walk to the bathroom. Make sure you are moving, unless you like pins and needles that is.
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7. Two items i cannot get on a plane without are; headbands and chapstick. These two are my favourite pocket items on a long haul flight. They are simple but effective.
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8. Take advantage of the entertainment on board the flight. The movies, tv shows, music, games, podcasts.(the alcohol) Anything to keep the brain awake.
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9. Now is the perfect time to research and plan your upcoming trip, you have so much time to make an itinerary and to think about exactly what you’re going to do whilst you’re on holiday so make the most of it!
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10. Pack light. Take a nice size bag with all your essentials in it as carry on luggage. Keep your passport, phone, and anything else you’ll immediately need in a separate wallet so you can easy get to them when you need them at the border etc.
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*Credit: all gifs taken from http://www.giphy.com*