Hanoi, Vietnam: Vietnam Photo Diaries - Hanoi, Day 1

Hanoi, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam

Mummy and I arrived in Hanoi on Sunday for a little reconnaissance mission of a hospitality nature and we checked into Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake - one of mummy's company's hotels in Hanoi - which would be our base for our short trip in Vietnam. This is my first ever visit to Hanoi - shocking, I know, given its proximity to and accessibly from Kuala Lumpur - and my first impression of this developing city was: Whoa, Hanoi is every bit as hectic as everyone says it is!

I've heard about Hanoi's infamous traffic and how you do not wait for the never-ending stream of motorcycles to stop before crossing the road, simply because the traffic never stops coming. You just have to steel your nerves, walk across the tide, and let the motorbikes and cars drive around you. I'd feel like Moses crossing the Red Sea as the waves parted for him, except that the entire time I was convinced I was going to meet my end at the wheels of one of the hundreds of motorcycles, tuk tuks, cars, and bicycles speeding toward me with no sign of slowing down only to evade me at the very last moment. 

Just take the locals' advice: do not freeze mid-crossing and definitely do not turn back unless you want to confuse traffic and cause a pile up. Oh, and the non-stop honking and beeping? Don't take it personally, it's not aimed at you (actually, it kind of is) - it's just a friendly warning to keep calm and carry on defying death even as you stride resolutely across the path of an army of incoming traffic. Two days in and my heart still hasn't left my throat and gone back down into my chest. 

Anyway, this is a photo diary because I'm too pressed for time to blog properly - it's nearly midnight here in Hanoi and I have to be up in seven hours to leave for Ha Long Bay - but I promise more words in my second blog post on Hanoi (or maybe less words, if you like that sort of thing? Let me know in the comments). For now, here are my photos from Day 1 in Hanoi. Enjoy.

Cherry blossoms are in season in Vietnam and it is a common sight to see entire trees strapped to the back of bicycles and motorbikes, to be taken to their new homes. 

Mine and mummy's Executive Suite at Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake. Perfectly sized for two.

The view from our balcony.

The Old Quarter is the shopping district of Hanoi with each street dedicated to and named after a specific ware that's sold there. For example, there's Silk Street and Shoe Street

Another common sight in Hanoi - beautifully carved wooden cages with song birds hanging from telephone wires and outside shops.

As is vendors selling their wares from baskets carried from street to street. Beware, the moment you make eye contact with them they will try to sell you something, and they don't always take no for an answer!

The traffic never ebbs, it just flows - believe it or not, you are expected to walk across this and just have faith that the motorcycles will know how to weave in and out of the pedestrians.

It may be shocking to animal-lovers in the West to see cats being transported in wire baskets on the back of bicycles but believe me, this is hardly the most astonishing creature I've seen on an open vehicle. I saw a golden retriever standing on the footrest of a scooter as his master drove down a highway with his dog literally at his feet.

After a chaotic first day in Hanoi it was quite a relief to go home to my peaceful suite and enjoy this stunning view of Hanoi's bays...until I realised I had to wake up early in the morning and do it all over again.


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