I’m just a small town girl…
So I found the hustle and bustle of our 4 days in Hanoi (and the people riding scooters the sidewalks!) to be a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, it was exciting and vibrant.
There was action all day and night and my brain was on stimulation overload!
Tip-Be very careful walking on the sidewalks (scooters!) and crossing the street. Yikes! Yellow lights apparently mean speed up and red lights mean nothing.
In Hanoi, you will see thousands of scooters, motorbikes, some cars, busses, trucks, bicycles and pedicabs. All going different directions at times.
And you will see people carrying everything on motorbikes-dogs, babies, families of 4 or 5, bags of rice, produce, metal pipes, baskets-you name it! (Makes me wonder why so many Americans need giant trucks, SUV’s and minivans for their small families.)
While in Hanoi, we stayed in a luxurious and peaceful oasis in the French quarter.
The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel-a beautiful hotel, which opened in 1901 and is right next to the Hanoi Opera House.
The service was over the top amazing! I can’t rave enough about the excellent and attentive staff and luxury accommodations. Wow!
The pool area was my favorite way to spend every afternoon.
Sipping on a cold, pink Frose wasn’t bad either!
Another very cool thing about the hotel was the historical tour that is given exclusively to hotel guests each evening. The tour concludes with a few minutes in a bomb shelter, built during the Vietnam War, and only discovered during a hotel renovation 6 years ago. Don’t let the grins fool you. The tour was very moving for all of us.
We spent a fantastic (also very hot!) morning with Kim and Cookie, our tour guides from Hanoi Kids. This tour group, private tours guided by college students, is fantastic. I highly recommend them. Look them up on TripAdvisor-all the glowing recommendations are well earned!
They took us to the Temple of Literature . This is where Vietnam’s first National university, the Imperial Academy is held. It was built in 1070 and is dedicated to Confucius.
We also went to Hoa Lo Prison, which was quite interesting. In Vietnam, what Americans call the Vietnam War, is referred to as the “American War”, by the way.
We found the Vietnamese people to be very friendly. The attitude of the younger generation seems that maybe they don’t care about the American War and it’s just history. The older generations haven’t forgotten but seem to have forgiven.
You will find propaganda at the museum and you might not like it. You will just have to visit and form your own opinion! I prefer to try to keep my blog positive!
Kim and Cookie gave us some insight about women on scooters in Hanoi.
According to our guides, women prefer scooters over motorbikes because they don’t have any gears and the scooters have a place to stow purses etc.
Also, they don’t just wear masks for pollution, but rather to cover up and not get too much sun. Many women are completely covered head to toe. They are referred to as “bike ninjas”.
Many women ride sidesaddle. Very impressive!
Keeping the sun off your skin is something we started coming across in Singapore. Funny because I just want to be nice and tan!
We even saw many places selling whitening sunscreen.
Another excursion we took while in Hanoi was to the Museum of Ethnology. It focuses on 54 officially recognized ethnic groups within Vietnam. It preserves cultural heritage and has very cool outdoor replicas of homes as well as lovely gardens and a water puppet theater.
You can read more about water puppet theater and how it’s unique to Vietnam and dates back centuries. We even got to try it.
There is a night market in the Old Quarter every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go because Friday was our last night in Hanoi and there was a massive thunderstorm complete with pouring rain and some minor power outages. Got to save something for next time, I guess!
Next up…Hoi An and it’s lovely lanterns and a day trip to Hue