Chaos in Hanoi
Trip Start Oct 05, 2010
18Trip End Nov 24, 2010
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Where I stayed
After 19 hours on planes and 5 hours in airports, we made it to Ha Noi. Travelling for 24 hours can take it out of you, so I decided to uncharacteristically spring for a little comfort and arrange a car to pick us up from the airport to take us to the hotel. The drive into Hanoi is about 30 miles, and so we got a good intro into the driving habits of the city.
The chaos of Vietnam traffic
Motorbikes are the standard here, and chaos is the norm. The highway was 2 lanes, but no one seemed to notice. All the cars would ride the line or go between lanes, and no one seems to be shy about the horn. They use it more as a way of letting the other drivers know that they are there, because with so many motos on the highway, it can get pretty crazy
We got to our hotel – a nice little place in the Old Quarter, and decided to walk around, and we had our first task: figure out how to cross the street. The key is to just go. Just start walking, and do it slowly and confidently. The most important thing is to not dodge the motos; let them dodge you. Needless to say, it takes some getting used to.
Around the city
We happened to be in Hanoi during their 1000-year anniversary festival so it seems things are much busier than normal. People are all over with their faces painted, wearing headbands and stickers, all of the Vietnamese flag. We walked a lot around the Old Quarter of the city, where everyone was carrying on, and we had a lot of people trying to sell us things. Especially the cyclo (tuk-tuk – a bicycle with a seat on the front) drivers. I guess they just see fat Americans and think “Hey, they won't want to walk!” Went to bed early at 5:00, which would be 4:00 a.m. in Colorado.
The next day consisted of more walking around and exploring more of Hanoi. The city is interesting, and some of the areas remind me a lot of Europe: small streets and alleyways, with large stuccoed buildings (and of course there are motos speeding through)
Hanoi is an interesting city, but I will say that it is not exactly what I had expected. It is very crowded, dirty, and loud. From what I had heard, it sounded to be much more of a laid-back, quaint type of city. But it is very much not what I had thought. I think that a lot of this could be due to the festival, which has created shoulder-to-shoulder crowds in some areas in the evenings, and just an overwhelming number of people. However, I will be coming back here later on my own, so I think I will get a second chance to see the city, without the festival, and without any jet lag. I feel like we didn’t see much of the city, but I will be able to see more when I come back.