March 16 – 23, 2017
Did we save the best for last? It’s tough to say for sure since every place on our 6 month, 4 country journey welcomed us with experiences we never anticipated and left us with memories to last a lifetime. By now we had been traveling for almost six months and, to be honest, we were tired and ready to get back home.
Our last blog is a brief overview of what we did in Hanoi which, from the start, had us mesmerized … at times confused … and always alert when crossing the streets to avoid being hit by motor scooters whizzing by!
We chose an Airbnb property “In the Heart of Old Town Hanoi” in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and were delighted with our choice. Our host, Tuan Anh (Ben,) helped us carry our bags upstairs (several flights!) to our large, airy room with ensuite bathroom and a kitchen with cooktop, microwave and fridge as well as a table and chairs – a perfect place for us to work while enjoying a view of the city.
We were excited about being able to cook meals here – the first time on our trip! However, we knew that life in the Old Quarter took place on the streets and sidewalks and, once settled, we headed outside to find a bowl of beef noodle soup (called Pho, pronounced “fuh”!)
It didn’t take long to find a place catering to locals as well as foreigners. Just look for a place with a line outside! We sat at a table slurping our soup and talking with a gentleman from Wisconsin and his two adopted Korean sons who were visiting Hanoi for a week.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter
The only way to enjoy Hanoi’s Old Quarter is to walk which, in itself, is quite a challenge! We’ve mentioned the street traffic but walking on the sidewalk is just as difficult! You see, people live and work and eat on the sidewalks, which they consider an extension of their house. They park their motorbikes on the sidewalk. They sit on low stools at small tables and enjoy coffee or tea with friends on the sidewalk. They sell food and other necessities on the sidewalk. And in the evening the sidewalks turn into mini markets where customers drive up on their scooters and buy their dinner before heading home!
Once we got over the need to get to our destination quickly, we found ourselves stopping to enjoy and capture moments in the mayhem! We saw beautifully decorated temples and pagodas crammed in between houses, enormous trees that must have been hundreds of years old. Vendor stalls filled with an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables, providing great photographic opportunities.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter has a fascinating history that spans more than 1,000 years. It’s been a capital since the 11th Century attracting skilled crafts people who formed cooperatives and set up shops on the same street producing similar products. The streets are named for the products produced and sold there. Check out this article by ThingsAsian for more information.
Our sightseeing list included: