We left Hanoi today and I am a bit sad. Suzanne and I both really enjoyed our time in Vietnam and especially Hanoi. We had low expectations for Vietnam and wondered how we would spend three weeks there. Now we are wondering if we left too soon! It was very authentic and beautiful. It has a unique culture with the influence from the French and Chinese and the people were delightful. I believe we made some friends in Vietnam that we will keep in touch with for our return visit to this great country.
We spent nine days in Hanoi, the capitol of Vietnam, and really connected with it. I enjoyed getting food on the streets. Literally, eating an amazing bowl of noodles on a tiny stool on the sidewalk. You can imagine what the tiny Vietnamese people were thinking when the White Giant just sat down next to them! It blows my mind how these ladies just cook on an open flame on the side of the road for about 16 hours a day, every day. There was a lady outside our apartment building who made amazing Banh Mi sandwiches. I went down every day for one of these for breakfast (For the uninitiated, this version of a Banh Mi was on fresh baguette – made with rice flour, which makes them extra fluffy – and had a fresh scrambled egg, pork belly, fresh-made pate, some greens and some amazing spicy chili sauce). She just stands there and cranks out these sandwiches with no help all day. They cost 90 cents.
Another crazy thing about Hanoi is the scooters. There are hardly any cars in Hanoi. Everybody rides on scooters. They don’t really use traffic lights and one way streets are just suggestions. They believe the horn is for notifying people you are coming and they use it basically every 3 seconds to let you know where they are. So it is pretty much chaos on the streets. Below is my favorite montage of scooters and what they drive around the street with on a scooter.
We also learned that there aren’t crosswalks in Hanoi. You just cross the street and dodge traffic and the scooters will pretty much go around you. You don’t run across the street or stop, you just walk at a slow, even pace and the world just works in harmony. So I had to record it. See below. Not sure it does it justice completely but quite amazing.
One of my top items in Vietnam and Hanoi was the coffee. I am definitely a fan of Vietnamese coffee. The standard version of dark thick coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk is quite amazing as is the special Hanoi version called Egg Coffee. This is a Vietnamese black coffee with an egg custard made of egg yolk, honey, rice wine, sugar and sweetened condensed milk on top! This recipe will be coming back to the U.S. with me!
The white layer on the bottom of the glass in the left photo is condensed milk. So Good!
One very fun activity we did was going to a Water Puppet show. This is a traditional past time in Vietnam. It was a fantastic show where the puppets are on top of a tank of water and the puppeteers are behind the curtain but basically in the tank. It was a great experience.
It rained and was very cold for several days in Hanoi. We had to buy jackets it got so cold. Even with the bad weather, we had a fantastic time walking around this city, enjoying the food and culture. In our three weeks, we only scratched the surface of what this country has to offer. I know we will be back soon. It is a unique place.