Hanoi – Old Quarter

Written by James McDonald

November 23, 2012

Arrived in Hanoi yesterday at about 3.

Had a small hickup at the airport when we went to get our visa the cost was 50USD for both of us but we didn’t have any cash. So we had to wait until a customs agent was available to take one of us (Lisa) out into the airport to a cash machine to get the Dong’s (Vietnamese money).

After that we had a wonderfully non-eventful drive to our accommodation, the “Rising Dragon Villa” the one on 43 Bac Su St you have to be specific about where you are staying because there are a half dozen “Rising Dragon” motels dotted around Hanoi.

Once settled, given a map and a very thorough local briefing by the Rising Dragon Staff I had my first experience of walking around in Hanoi.

Now  making a point of walking around a city is usually not something I’d do, but in Hanoi walking around requires a whole new suite of senses to be engaged in order for you not to get squished.

There are so many pushbikes, motorbikes, cars, buses and foot traffic and the trajectories that they all follow are only vaguely tied to the road rules as I understand them.  You have to wait until you are not in immediate danger of being run over and then just step out onto the road and then walk deliberately across the road trusting that the oncoming traffic will ‘filter’ around you. Of course you don’t just step out in front of a bus and expect it to filter.

Once you are walking across the road don’t balk as that confuses the motorbike riders and you might get skittled.

Strangely the apparent chaos seems to work.

We had dinner at a local Beef Noodle place. Once you know that the place is crowded with locals, this increases your trust that it is OK to eat there. Because if you went by Western Standards of cleanliness you would shy away from it. But I must say the food was absolutely wonderful and a day later I’m not driving the royal doulton so all good.

Another point that came to mind, the city is grotty but the people aren’t. I saw nothing but clean, neatly dressed locals, and they were all rather attractive IMHO.

Today we are heading for the Temple of Literature (the oldest university in Vietnam circa 1070) and hopefully meet up with friends for lunch.

I’m not at the moment posting photos on this post I may do some later when I’ve got my phone / tablet hooked up to wifi later.

PS. I’m writing this from an IBM Thinkpad with Windows XP SP2 on it. Provided by RDV it has some software on it named Deepfreeze that refreshes the config each reboot so that the old data from the last login doesn’t hang around. A very good idea for a guest loaner.

OK to breakfast and the day.

 

 

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