September 27, 2013

Last Stop in Vietnam (Hanoi, Vietnam)

People - we LOVED Vietnam. Loved it! ADORED it! We're ready to go back. For this reason, our time in Hanoi was bittersweet because it was our last stop. The dive boat in Thailand (read here) and Vietnam were the only two places where I actually felt myself mourning for leaving. But, alas, with flights awaiting us from Bangkok to Australia and because we still wanted to visit Laos, we had to push off from Vietnam.

Chowing down on some spare ribs (I think) in Hanoi
We actually visited Hanoi twice. First, we took a train from Phong Nha (read here) to Hanoi and spent a few days enjoying the city. After that, we took a bus to the mystic Cát Bà and Ha Long Bay region (read here) before returning back to Hanoi for three more days of urban exploration.

On the train from Phong Nha to Hanoi. This guy crawled up in our bunks to take photos with us. Love the friendliness!

After an action-packed few weeks, we kept things pretty low key in Hanoi. We caught up on sleep, watched television in our room at Rendezvous Hotel, ate street food, drank bia hơi (fresh beer), went on long walks, and visited the markets. We didn't just bum around the whole time, though. We did make some time to go to a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show, and we also visited Ho Chi Minh's Presidential Palace and famous stilt house. 
The Presidential Palace
You might remember: we loved Ho Chi Minh City (read here). We expected to love Hanoi in the same way but, although we really liked Hanoi, we didn't have the same love affair with it that we had with HCM. It wasn't nearly as hectic as HCM, which is something most people would prefer. But we actually preferred the chaos and energy of Ho Chi Minh more. Still, Hanoi was beautiful. The markets were bustling. The beer was cold and cheap. The streets were clean and the people were joyful. We hope we'll visit again someday.

You can see all of our photos from Hanoi here. A few more of our favorites are below.

Delicious bia hơi on a hot day

We saw these padded underwear everywhere. Apparently, Vietnamese
gals are looking to put some junk in their trunks.
Musicians at the water puppet show

Street vendors

Changing of the guards at the Presidential Palace

A common trick in Hanoi is for the women vendors to approach you and
start talking. Before you know it, you're wearing their hat and carrying their
goods. Then they suggest you take a photo and tip them. It's all in good fun
and the women are always laughing about it, so we happily paid and smiled.

One of my favorite photos from Vietnam. It just captures the motion and colors of the country's streets so well.

You can see all of our photos from Hanoi here.

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