A long travel day followed by broken sleep for stamping passports meant that we arrived in Hanoi at 5:30 local time a little dazed. We arrived at the hostel that we’d booked and the room wasn’t available until 1PM. You would have thought that this would initiated some sort of melt down, but you’d be wrong.
We took the opportunity to wander the streets of old quarter and get a bearing on the local streets. An area we’d get to know really well.
Lonely Planet is a good beginning reference for any city especially, places that are too big to get your head around by wandering the streets. So with the aid of that we found Hoan Kiem (short) lake which has a beautiful temple on an island in the middle of it. And this old monument as well.
We visited the Hoa Lo Prison museum which was used by the French colonials to keep political dissenters locked up and then later by the Viet Minh who kept American pilots there after they’d been shot down.
There were some pretty creepy statues in there.
They focus on the the Vietnamese prisoners though, and how well they treated the American pilots. Naturally.
In between these things we ate cheap street food; including our first banh my thit – a Vietnamese baguette with cucumber, carrot, coriander, and some kind of meat, and found a really nice place by the lake to have a Vietnamese style coffee. We’ve been back to that place a lot!
Hanoi is a nice chilled vibe for a capital city, it’s suffused with a laziness that isn’t apparent in other big cities, the trees that line the lake droop over and sip at the still water. People do their exercises by the lake in the early morning.
Here are some more snaps of life in the old quarter.
And then Soph wanted to be a farmer.