Home > Travel > Hanoi, Old Quarter – day 2

Hanoi, Old Quarter – day 2

I slept fairly well. As mentioned before hotel was located deeper inside narrow streets so I didn’t really hear the buzz from the main streets. Quickly got ready for the day, had a quick shower, checked the gear, passport, money and headed down for breakfast. Just scrambled eggs and baguette but good enough for me. Can you ask more for $12 a night? I don’t think so. There was a sound of speaker on the street some kind of announcement or so. I got impression it is the government brainwashing the citizens with some political message but I might be wrong. However, nothing would surprise me in communist country. But I don’t have the same feeling as back home 20 years ago. Vietnam took over the Chinese model. Economy is pure capitalism but when it comes to politics everything turns red straight away.

Streets of old quarter are buzzing from early morning. Weather is is a little gloomy. It’s overcast, not so cold and noticeable less humid than Singapore. Even temperatures are around 20 degrees Celsius and I am loving it.

I walked to the Ho Hoan Kiem lake. Everything was bit misty. I saw people, mostly older exercising, same as I saw it in countless documentaries. This time I was right there. I walked around the lake, took few shots but light isn’t the best. I still feel little ackward when taking photos of people. Especially in Vietnam I was warned that they are not particularly happy about it. I was approached by couple of younger men offering bike rides, taxi etc. I am well aware of scams and touts happening in Hanoi so I politely refused. One of them called me paparazzi :)….I must have looked like one with two cameras around the neck.

After hour or two at the lake I went back, figured out that I am able to find my way back to hotel easily. I stopped by at Handspan Travel Agency recommended by Lonely Planet and also my friend Jan who used them just about month ago and was very satisfied.  It is probably not the cheapest one in Vietnam but the have good name and they are reliable. Also their office looks more professional, lady spoke reasonably good English and they were extremely polite and helpful. I booked 3d/2n trip to Halong Bay. One night on boat and one night on Cat Ba island. I dearly wanted two nights at boat but trips seemed to be hopelessly booked out everywhere. Strange. I haven’t seen that many tourists. I also booked over-night train to Lao Cai and back to Hanoi couple of days later. Now I am sitting in Handspan Restaurant, sipping coffee and typing this so I don’t forget. Later on I grab a lunch somewhere and head of for some more exploration. Museums are not really my thing so I guess I just spend my time on the streets and try to get some shots. I am also determined to practice street crossing in Hanoi. As somebody said it is an art form. I have tried it already but the traffic isn’t still at it’s best. I try again afternoon 🙂

Old Quarter is quite interesting place. It remains be little of old part of Phnom Pehn but this one is much more busier and perhaps little cleaner. I noticed that it has 2 parts. One is kind of touristy part with all the shops, cafes and travel agencies. The other one is just local businesses, markets and homes. Similarly like in Bangkok or Phnom Pehn , life is happening right on the streets so it is very interesting to observe and learn.
Like in any other Asian country, women work really hard. I see therm tirelessly walking with their baskets filled with fruits, vegetable or other goods. Sometimes they look really struggling with the weight of it. But you won’t hear a complain. Same goes when it comes to traffic. Everybody is pretty calm unlike the situation on the road. Btw I got pretty good at crossing the street. I noticed traffic lights but nobody seem to care. I also got outside Old Quarter. I walked across the bridge over Red River. River bank is pretty wide but its half dry. Whole country seems surprisingly dry. After coming back I kept walking on small streets, dropped to a small restaurant for late lunch and coffee.
People in Hanoi seem to be ok. I was afraid of scams but nothing really happened. They don’t beg like in India. They seem to understand what “no, thank you” means. Smile will certainly help in dealing with them. Its very easy to guess a person’s name. It’s either Trang or Nguyen. maybe I add Thuy to it.

I am having a little rest now. I think I hit the sack early since I wake up early for Halong Bay trip. And I was on the feet since 8 morning walking with my heavy photo gear. Also need to pay hotel now rather than morning to make sure I can leave on time. Cannot wait to get away from city. Listening for horns beeping all day long is pretty crazy. I might even dram about it :(. Ok I am signing off. Not sure when I am gonna be able to make the next entry but I will for sure at some point. I don’t think they have wifi at junk 😛

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