After Xander being very unsure in Hong Kong and our expectations of Vietnam being “very different”, we were all a bit anxious about our month there.
First step was getting into the country, Max and I had decided to follow the embassy website advice to not use the e-visa process as it can’t be guarenteed, and go all the way to London and get the visas in person over two days. It was just an added bonus that this meant we could have a fabulous two evenings out in London with Yvonne, Amanda, Laura and Pete wishing us luck for our travels.
Laura went with the e-visa…would she get in? How long would it take? Well, e-visa worked fine. Really quick (Xan says it was still longer than having the visa already!). Would have saved us train to/from and two nights hotel in London. This was one of Max’s caution decisions that wasn’t needed…
In keeping with our cautious approach to Vietnam, all the accommodation was booked in advance along with hotel pick ups and transfers. The transfer from the hotel consisted of us looking out the window at the traffic in utter amazement and trepidation that we would have to figure out how to manage through this craziness of mopeds.
Pulling into our hotel, the Angel Palace, the challenge began – could we cross the road?
For those on Facebook you may have seen our short videos of our road crossing attempts. We managed that afternoon with the simple advice of “just walk slowly across the road and let the traffic go round you”. Seemed simple. I was just a bit worried about the added “don’t stop, or walk too quickly, otherwise you will get hit!”.
By the end of the first day we were already in love with Vietnam and its energy. The hotel, although only a 3* was very modern, clean and perfect. The traffic was daunting but we managed, the difference to the UK is that no one seems to have the right of way, so everyone is expected to pay attention to everyone. It works. It also took at bit of getting used to the noise. All the “beeps” were not people being angry with each other, the noise was not one of aggression. They were just curtesy beeps to let people know they were there. The crazy traffic, the noise, and the people.
The people, or more specifically families, are just on the street. Small plastic chairs and tables outside their home, shop, restaurant are were they seem to spend the evenings. Watching the world go by whist cooking their dinner. As an avid people watcher myself I just loved it.
Well, that was my first impression of Vietnam from Hanoi. I’m going to post more about Vietnam with our photos and writing about the various places we visited, but my first impression never changed. An amazing place, great people, great feeling, just love it.
Will definitely visit again.
Footnote: Electricity…don’t look up!