Hanoi was just amazing. I won’t bore you with a hour by hour review, but just some of the highlights and some photos (which I have tried to caption – not sure I’m skilled at that).
Night market – This was full of great crafts, like the handmade pop up cards that were just beautiful, mixed with lots of fake goods. Max, being a Yorkshireman, couldn’t resist what appeared to be great bargains and we left with a Bose portable bluetooth speaker, new Nike trainers for Xander, pink headphones for Scarlett and a NorthFace t-shirt and coat for Max. Anyone would think we had unlimited luggage allowance!
Food – At first we were very worried about the food given the fact that it was all on display. Where are the fridges we cried! Also the general hygiene was not great – don’t look at the walls. Well, all the food was fresh so no need for fridges and none of us got food poisoning. We did however get the most amazing food, my favourite being from New Day that Laura took us to on the first night (TripAdvisor wins again).
Hanoi Hilton – Our visit to the old prison was very interesting and gave us an opportunity to teach the kids (and ourselves) a little bit about the French and American wars. I was very cognisant of the victor-bias in all the information but was still struck by the sheer amount of conflict this nation has had in recent history. It just added to my positive feelings that they could be such a welcoming happy nation in the light of such horrors. Prison visit – Hà Nội
The Bridge (and views) – The never-ending crazy busy bridge (trains, mopeds, cyclists and stupid tourists). I was absolutely terrified, given the height and the big gaps and loose paving slabs, but determined to walk across. I was rewarded with great views of the river, and ordinary people living and working. We even saw a cockfight going on amongst the allotments (can’t think of a more apt word) near the shanty houses. The bridge itself was subject to constant bombing in the American War but they found a solution – get the POWs to fix it. Apparently this resulted in the USA stopping the bombing to protect their service men from the rebuild dangers.
Turtle Temple – In the middle of Hanoi is a lake, which is lovely to walk around, and on that lake is a little island temple. The story is that of a turtle and sword. The detailing was just stunning and it was great to see locals as well as tourists still using it for reflection and worship.
Water Puppet Show – The puppets were just beautiful and the show was great. Only downside was that the low lighting level and relaxing music, combined with dialogue we couldn’t understand, seemed to create a lovely sleep-inducing effect and I had to constantly fight my nodding head.