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Hanoi, Vietnam: Morning exercises around the lake, small chairs and cheap beers

IMG_20151016_062257I ended up arriving back in Hanoi at 3am, which was earlier than expected. Luckily my hostel had already told me that I could crash on their common room floor. Along with two other, we slept for a couple of hours before rising at 6am to see all the shenanigansIMG_20151016_065252 around Hoan Kiem lake. It was so interesting: people doing Tai chi, aerobics, ballroom dancing, badminton, fitness, stretches and even massages. We joined one of the massage lines for a laugh, where even with the language barrier, was welcoming.Once we strolled round the whole of the lake, I checked into the hostel and had breakfast.IMG_20151016_100143

As I was meeting a friend late morning, I went to visit the Opera house, history museum and prison but didn’t get time to look around.

Once I met up with a friend, we visited the Temple of Literature, which was pretty big but wasn’t that informative. Then we saw the One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, palace with the guards, West lake and Tran Quoc Pagoda (which was a disappointment) before enjoyingIMG_20151016_124423 some local street food: plantain/potato and spinach/ greens sauce with fried tofu and rice.

We walked back to the Old Quarter to sort out our boat cruise to Halong bay. I had heard some horror stories of people paying a ridiculous amount and ended up on a party boat with poor quality. I decided to pay a little cheaper than I was going to so that I could not be disappointed but it still included all the things I wanted to do.

IIMG_20151016_125120n the evening, we had a couple of free drinks at my hostel then sat in the popular crossroads of

To enjoy 5,000 dong (16p) beer and cheese stick. For the rest of the night, I bar hopped, where free shots where given and ended up dancing the night away at a club.

When I got back to my hostel at the early hours of the morning, the shutters were down and after bashing on the gate and ringing the door bell for half an hour, I finally got let in.IMG_20151016_173155

Hanoi, Vietnam: crazy traffic, water puppet show and Vietnamese food

IMG_20151013_102647As soon as I landed in Hanoi, I just had a good feeling about this city. After receiving my visa, walking through passport control and collecting my bag, I was on search with another girl to find transport to Hanoi. First the tourist information told us $25 for a taxi to our hostel but we ended up jumping in a mini van costing $9 each. The drive was pretty long with motorbikes crowding the road and crazy driving. This city has character and is very different from laid back Thailand.IMG_20151012_222727

By the time I arrived at my hostel around 10, I was hungry. In search of food, I found a cafe, where I had some incredible pineapple, peanut fresh spring rolls.

IMG_20151013_092542My first full day in Hanoi, I wandered around the Old Quarter. Through the hectic, busy street. One thing I can say about Hanoi is that the roads are full of motorbikes, beeping and swerving about each other. There’s not really any pavements where it is easy to walk so people are just walking in the road. Traffic doesn’t stop so you literally just have to walk out when you want to cross the road, hoping you don’t get hit. It’s scary when there are moving vehicles to avoid driving at full speed.

IMG_20151013_105948First, I went to the Dong Xuan market, which was crowded with stalls and local rushing and pushing past.ni even asked the price of something and they just said ‘No’. I have found that a lot of Vietnamese people are not very friendly and when they are, it’s usually because they want you to buy something from then. I visit the Quan Chuong gate, memorial house and Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake, which, in my opinion, wasn’t worth paying for. Then found the water puppet show to purchase a ticket for the afternoon performance.IMG_20151013_111648

Walking around the lake was peaceful to find the Woman Museum, which was about woman’s jobs, politic, marriage, family, beliefs and fashion. I totally enjoyed finding out about the history and feel that this museum was brilliant.IMG_20151013_133710

For lunch, I met up with my old housemate and her sister, where I had a Vietnamese Crepe. It was filled with prawns, onions and mushrooms but when it was displayed to me, it looked incredible. I got told to cut up the crepe, place it in the rice paper then add the salad bits, roll it up and dip into a sweet sauce. It was delicious.IMG_20151013_150539

After, I went to the traditional water puppet show, where there were several different acts with a band singing and playing Vietnamese music while the puppets moved in the water. I would totally recommend seeing a show if you ever go to Hanoi.

On the way back to the hostel, I went to a cafe called Cafe Pho Co to have a famous egg coffee, which was incredible. The cafe is a quirky place that has a rooftop view of the lake, hidden behind a silk shop along Hang IMG_20151013_161314Gai. Watching the sunset and drinking coffee was just bliss.

In the evening, I had some free beer from the hostel before hopping onto a night bus to Sapa.

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