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I Haven't Been Everywhere But It's On My List I love to travel and experience the world but part of the fun for me is documenting those experiences through photography and writing. Follow along with me and enjoy the ride!

Hot in Hanoi

VIETNAM | Monday, 20 July 2015 | Views [254]

We found an awesome place to grab dinner called Bit tet Hai Ty (Hai Ty Steak).

We found an awesome place to grab dinner called Bit tet Hai Ty (Hai Ty Steak).

Hello from Hanoi!  
We flew in on Sunday afternoon and got to our hotel just before dinner time.  We walked down the street to the Dong Xuan Night Market.  It was even more extensive (but much less crowded) than the markets in Hong Kong.  There were blocks and blocks and blocks were shut down to traffic (except motorcycles, they're EVERYWHERE) and hundreds of shops were selling anything you could think of - dresses, toys, food, jewelry, lingerie, shoes, sunglasses, etc.  After stepping around parked motorcycles on the side walks and dodging the ones whizzing by us in the street, we found a place with dozens of child size plastic tables and stools to eat dinner.  The streets are lined with this furniture, which is helpful in knowing which store fronts are restaurants because none of the signs are in English and Vietnamese seems more difficult to me than the Chinese characters I had gotten used to seeing.  The place we found was amazing and was called Bit Tet Hai Ty - another restaurant mentioned in the guide book that we have simply stumbled upon.  Around the corner from where we were eating dinner, there was a live band playing on the street and people just pulled up a stool to enjoy the music.  We had spring rolls, fried noodles, and fried pork and it was all DELICIOUS!!!  After dinner we decided to walk around and check out the neighborhood a bit.  Of course, I always have by eyes peeled for ice cream and what we found was perfect!  It was called iCream Lab and it was a science themed ice cream shop!!  They used liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream and served us water in beakers!  After dessert, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
On our first full day in Hanoi, we wanted to explore the city a bit.  Our first stop was the Memorial House in the Old Quarter.  It is an old house that has been restored and protected but is in the late 1800s style.  It was beautiful to see the mix of French and Asian architecture.  Vietnam was part of Imperial China from 111BC to 938 AD and became independent from China after winning the battle of Bạch Đằng River and it is clear from our tour guide, that there is still a contentious relationship between Vietnamese and Chinese people.  Vietnam was colonized by the French and renamed Indochina in the mid 19th century until 1954.  Vietnam was divided geographically and politically into North and South Vietnam until the Vietnam War, which ended in the North's victory and the reunification of Vietnam in 1974.  Vietnam is still officially known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  
After the memorial house, we had lunch.  We were so incredibly hot we just wanted to find a place to sit and drink a cold glass of anything.  China and especially Hong Kong were hot but we could escape the heat because there were many shops, restaurants, and even the subway was air conditioned.  It is REALLY hard to find AC in Hanoi.  The best we could find was a small restaurant that had an elaborate fan set up to maximize the efficiency.   After lunch we headed down to the lake.  We walked for what seemed like forever stopped to buy some fans along the way and took a seat on the benches around the lake.  It was almost hard to enjoy how beautiful it was because we were so uncomfortable and exhausted from the heat.  After we were able to cool down a bit we headed out to find St. Joseph's Cathedral, an old catholic church in the gothic style in the Hanoi city center.  We made it no more than 15 min before we had to stop and grab a cold bubble tea to cool us down.  The cathedral and the diocese grounds were beautiful be we could tell we were losing steam.  We decided we would go to one more place - the Vietnamese Women's Museum.  
We heard amazing things about the museum but still didn't really know what to expect.  It was awesome!  It was the story of women in all aspects of Vietnamese culture and the impact they have.  Everything from marriage, childbirth and rearing, women in war, fashion, agriculture, and so much more!  They also did a really great job of representing women from a variety of different ethnic groups throughout the country and showing the similarities and differences in traditions.  The museum was so cool but MUCH larger than we expected and were really dragging our feet by the time we got to the 4th floor.
At this point after almost 3 weeks of traveling and the zombie like state we were both in, I decided we had no other option that to find a spa and get massages.  We asked at the reception desk at the museum and they gave us an address and pointed us in the right direction.  When we started walking, we realized we were at number 44 and we had to go all the way to 250.  That was just not going to happen.  Luckily, we found a different spa on our way.  We stepped into Lavender Spa and knew we had made the right decision.  We paid an unbelievably low price for a 60 min massage and it was amazing.  We both felt like a new person walking out and it was exactly what we needed.  
We headed home and had a quick turn around for dinner.  We liked the restaurant we ate at the night before but wanted to try something new so we stopped at a different restaurant near our hotel.  Jeanette ordered the national dish, Pho (pronounced fuh) and I got fried noodles.  This restaurant also had plastic children's furniture and halfway through dinner I saw Jeanette start to slowly sink to the ground and eventually fall off her stool.  Of course my first reaction was to laugh but the waiters who worked there jumped up with concern immediately.  One of them even offered their adult size plastic chair to Jeanette for the rest of the meal.  I had a good laugh for about 10 min :)
After dinner, we headed back to hotel because we knew we had an early morning the next day - we were going to Ha Long Bay!


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