Bit of a fuzzy head this morning. Some worse than others – down to breakfast and then someone needed a nap
Packed and ready to go by midday – checkout and leave bags in reception. Kill 2 hours in town with a walkabout and some lunch at the banana leaf cafe. Yummy food – had some pork and veggie fresh rolls. Massive, fresh and tasty. A pumpkin, ginger and garlic soup, a banana leaf salad and a Hoi An speciality White Rose. Accompanied with an ice cold Larue. Great way to leave Hoi An. Taxi to the airport at 2pm, black merc waiting to whisk us away – when I say whisk I mean very slowly and carefully drive us to the airport.
Flight to Hanoi – vietjet airways – delayed (we had been warned!) but playing gangnam style as we boarded so all forgiven??? Especially as a Pax in front of us started dancing to it up the aisle!
Cheapest way to get from Hanoi airport into town is definitely the airport shuttle – 40,000 dong ($2) per person as you come out the airport turn right and walk towards the mini bus signs and a vietjet air rep pointed us to the big vietjet air bus which took us to quang trung 5 mins from where we wanted to be 🙂 You can find details of this in the Lonely Planet Guide Book but quite a few will be heading that way too. The airport in Hanoi, unlike HCMC is quite far out of the city centre where you will want to be.
We had been lucky with the weather and it had only rained when we were travelling, we landed into Hanoi to a bit of rain which kept the temperature down at least, it was noticeably cooler up north. We were treated to Vietnamese tv on the bus, a 30 inch flat screen was mounted at the front and the equivalent of the variety show entertained us for about an hour.
We stayed at a hotel called the Nam Ngu which was a little out of the way it appeared, by the train station. As it turned out we were right next to one of the most famous Vietnamese restaurants in Vietnam – Quan An Ngon (SPELLING) we checked in an were a little dubious, but the room was huge and after a trip downstairs the wifi and the safe were in working order 🙂
We ventured out to a 24hour food street to check things out. A different vibe in Hanoi to HCMC but still friendly and the little restaurant had cold Ha Noi beer!! I ordered the Pho Bo which as ever was delicious. Thera went for something a little different and ordered a dish called Medicine chicken – not quite what she expected. We later found out that the local chicken is deliberately small and tough, to the Vietnamese, the harder it is to get the meat off the better. The taste of the dish was also very familiar to me. As a child my mum made Chinese food that tasted very similar and was usually made for us when we were feeling ill. Back to the hotel and a bit of sleep in order.
As with pretty much all our hotels we used booking.com and had chosen not to include breakfast but the hotel comped us which was nice. Buffet style breakfast set us up and we headed out to explore the city of Hanoi.
The hotel was a 10 minute walk from Hoan Kiem lake so we set off in that direction and basically covered the Old quarter the french quarter, st Joseph’s cathedral. The statue of Lai To, the opera house, and then lunch at Quan An Ngon next door to the hotel.
Whilst a bit cooler than HCMC it was still sticky and hot so a shower and relax in the room was in order before we headed out to meet up with our friend Adel, an Emirati who has been on the ground for 3 years in Hanoi. He took us to The famous Vietnamese restaurant for dinner. We met him by the lake at first and he was quite easy to spot and we greeted him with a big smile which he said identified us to him across the street! Dinner was delicious and the Morning Glory fried with garlic was particularly tasty – I also tried the Ban Xeo which is a Vietnamese spring roll that you put together yourself and contains a number of green and purple leaves as well as pork and prawns all held together with a crispy egg omelette. Luckily the waitress came and cut up the omelette thing and also showed me how to make the first one. None of my subsequent ones matched that one but they all tasted fantastic. Thera went for a pork do it yourself rice paper roll which was delicious. We had also seen the random looking dessert glasses being delivered so I gave one a try and was surprised. A mixture of coconut milk, ice and a variety of jelly bits and pieces. As a very gracious host Adel refused to let us pay for anything and after dinner took us up to the 19th floor of one of the buildings to get a view over Hanoi. It’s a huge city. He also showed us around the old quarter at night, backpacker central, lively and full of young people 🙂 Adel was off to HCMC the next day so left us to our own devices and we headed back into the of quarter, found a 1st floor bar and watched the world go by for a few hours. Tried a new local beer, Haliban? Ok but not as clean a taste as Hanoi or Saigon beer for that matter. A couple of crab spring rolls also snuck onto the table too. Night night