For some reason, lots of towns and cities begin with H’s here… My next posts will be on Halong Bay, Hue, and Hoi An…
Hanoi is a bustling city where the epicentre of the old quarter is marked by a large calm lake, Hoàn Kiếm.
In the north of the old city, we visited the neo-gothic st Joseph’s cathedral, built in 1886. Many times throughout the day, mass is conducted in both Vietnamese and French.
The French influence here is prominent, with a breakfast and cafe culture, and no shortage of baguettes.
You can order your continental breakfast in French, which is far easier than attempting to speak Vietnamese, known to be one of the hardest languages to master.
Most restaurants have some French influenced food, including Duck à l’orange, and a Sprite.
There’s also no shortage of traditional Vietnamese food. I stopped at a street stall (one that was busy/popular) and tried a local snack.
It’s base was made from rice noodles, which when dry looks like a decomposed tesco bag. It was seasoned and began to soften into noodles as I knew them. Vegetables, dried beef and dried squid were added to the mix that was topped off with dried onions. As strange as it looks it was delicious, despite the struggle of eating with the worlds thinnest chopsticks.
In addition to this, Hanoi’s streets are speckled with fruit vendors on foot and some working from street stalls. I bought, and almost sold some pineapple…
We also came across this Asian fruit called a Durian. It’s absolutely massive, I didn’t try it. One backpacker we met told us that their hostel had a sign up specifically explaining that this fruit is not to be brought into the dorms.
We walked around the lake which seems to be a hub of activity and came across the Huc bridge which stretches half way into the lake, as well as the turtle tower right in the middle of it.
Somewhere around the lake there’s also a large statue in a square where lots of people were roller skating. Spot the real statue.
We stopped by the lake and noticed groups of students approaching tourists and chatting. I wondered what was going on, eventually our time came. They wanted to practice their English with us, it was really nice to be able to help them.
There were also lots of people selling bits and bobs, and doing portraits in caricatures. I particularly like this photo of a lady selling a game with chickens.
For dinner we went to a great restaurant called Cau Go, and sat on a roof terrace overlooking the city. The food was general Asian with some Vietnamese twists. Though the timing of the food arriving was very sporadic, it was delicious.
After dinner we wandered down the endless street market. I also bumped into a fan who wanted a photo…
I think she just wanted a photo because I’m a novelty white guy…
Next stop, Halong Bay!