unexpected hanoi

Long time, no blog! I’ve been in Vietnam with Gabby for the past ten days, so blogging, let alone good internet, has been hard to come by. No worries, though, I’ll be posting about our trip quite regularly in the next few days! IMG_2676Our first stop on our Vietnamese adventure was Hanoi. I didn’t really know what to expect of Hanoi, since I’ve never been to Vietnam. It was really a lovely surprise. The streets have the classic Southeast Asia craziness that I’ve grown to love, and the people are so so so friendly. We stayed at the 3 Stones Hostel in Hanoi, formerly the Little Hanoi Hostel, located on Hang Ga street, which is an easy 15 minute walk to the center of Hanoi. The staff here was super super helpful and friendly, and the dorms were $6.50 a night! They were very very decent, and every bed had an outlet. I’d totally recommend this hostel.

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Our first day was spent exploring the lake, wandering to the post office and opera house, and getting a feel for the city. Hoan Kiem Lake is really central to everything, and it was so nice to walk around. To walk the perimeter of the lake takes about half an hour, and just a hint: it’s a much more enjoyable walk with a slushie (the ice in Vietnam gave us absolutely no problems- so go ahead and indulge!!!).

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IMG_2697Gabby in front of the Opera House, pictured above!!!

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Day 2 was spent more along the outskirts of the city. We checked out Tran Quoc Pagoda, which was a really beautiful place. If you are going to visit a pagoda, make sure your shoulders and knees are covered to be respectful. I’d advise you to do what Gabby and I did, and bring a shirt/wrap skirt to change into- the summer months are hot hot hot!

The pagoda is a bit of a far walk from the Old Town, so we decided to take a cyclo. We bargained the price down to 100,000 dong, or about $5. We both thought it was well worth the money. Our little driver was so cute, and he jumped into our selfie.

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After the pagoda, we walked down to the botanical gardens. It was a pretty long walk, and not for the faint hearted. The gardens were beautiful, well worth our time, but if you don’t have too long in Hanoi, it can be skipped. There were tons and tons of people walking around and enjoying the greenery. There’s also a monkey cage in the center of the garden that houses a family of monkeys, including an adorable baby. As happy as we were to see these monkeys, the cage was small, they had very little water in puddles on the ground, and we didn’t see any food for them. It was really quite sad, but I won’t lie and say that we didn’t enjoy seeing them.
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We also went to the Mausoleum, but turns out, it was closed. Instead of going in, we talked to some incredibly sweet guards, and I snapped this photo.  At nighttime, we headed out to the weekend night market, which was so so so incredibly amazing. The entire street was closed off the host this market, and everything you could want to buy was present in one stall or another. We also had some kebabs for dinner, and I got mine in bread. Street food is fantastic here.

Day 3. This day, we just wandered around the Old Town, and did some shopping. We had breakfast at Kangaroo Cafe, which was a little more pricey, but the food was delicious and the staff was incredible. IMG_2729_2

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Come nightfall, we walked through the weekend night market towards Hoan Kiem lake to the water puppet theater. We were a little early, so we went to a rooftop bar for some drinks beforehand. The bar is to the left of the theater and very very reasonably priced.

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The water puppet show was totally worth the $5. It was incredibly creative and although the songs and narrating were in Vietnamese, the storyline was easy to comprehend because of the puppets movement (and the English handout). Here’s the stage pre-show.

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That concludes our time in Hanoi, and it was very bittersweet to leave. Gabby and I were so excited to be going to Halong Bay, but w were sad to leave since our time in Hanoi was incredible.

 

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