The Start of Vietnam
So of course, every traveller should plan all the big things before heading off on their trip, for example...visas. We felt extremely lucky once we found out Vietnam has a 2 weeks exemption for British citizens as we had completely forgot you need a letter of approval to get a Visa on arrival at the airport. Yah, we really dumb. This meant our 3 week trip in Vietnam had to be shortened to 2 weeks, but it all worked out well in the end for us timing wise so not to worry.
One big, rather scary thing did happen once we landed in Hanoi, however it is a very long story and will be a different, future blogpost about safety when travelling. For right now though, this shall be an account of the cool things we found to do in Hanoi during our 2 days there.
Number 1: Go and get a burger at Chops Restaurant. I can't remember what the one I ordered was called but it had mac and cheese in it and it was the best burger I've ever had. The owner also happened to be from Epsom, which is the town next to mine. I love crazy things like that, reminders of how small the world really is. I'm kicking myself now that I don't have a picture of the burgers there but just trust me. It's a must.
I've realised now this post is mostly just going to be about food but that was a big part of our whole trip so sorry not sorry.
Number 3: The best thing we did by far was go on a walking street food tour. We did this with a guide and a group of other travellers from all over the world. One couple lived in Singapore (where everything is ridiculously expensive, especially alcohol) and they were so surprised by how cheap the drinks were that they decided to buy all of ours for us...which led to a very fun night. We ended up buying a bluetooth speaker karaoke microphone at the night market, which I now consider the best thing I own. Our guide took us on a tour to try all sorts of traditional Vietnamese street food, some of which was in proper restaurants, whereas others sat us on tiny plastic chairs and tables outside. All the food was really really good, one of my favourite things about travelling is trying local cuisine (so long as it isn't spicy). I will be honest though, Pho really wasn't my favourite thing we tried and I'm pretty surprised it has become such a big thing in the Western world. The only thing I didn't try was egg coffee, as I don't really love coffee at the best of times, but with an egg in it...nahhh. My favourites were the beef salad and Ban Mi. The rice bread used to make Ban Mi tastes so light and I really want to find out if there is somewhere I can buy it here.
Number 4: This one is less of a fun thing, but Hoa Lo Prison is an extremely interesting thing to do in Hanoi. Vietnam is so rich with history, though a lot of it can be upsetting, it's so important to learn about what has happened in their country. Whenever visiting somewhere new, I think it's really important to have an idea about what the country has been through, especially if it is recent history. Otherwise, you may risk coming across as an ignorant tourist to the local people. I think this is especially important in Vietnam, a country which has seen such hard times from the war with the US. As a tourist you want to earn the respect of the local people and let them know all your intentions for their country are good ones.
Hanoi is an absolutely crazy city with mopeds zooming around everywhere, it's extremely difficult to cross a road without feeling like you're going to die. This is made even more difficult when sometimes, mopeds just decide to drive along the pavement you're walking on. That was definitely a culture shock for me. I missed all the zebra crossings.
So that was a roundup of the awesome things we found in Hanoi, hope you all enjoyed :)