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