Honestly, Vietnam wasn’t a destination that was on my list or on any of my travel plans for this year. It is only when certain travel photos and videos flooded my Facebook wall and I started hearing stories about this country on travel groups is when I thought of giving it a go. Making this year about traveling South Asia.
So my mother and I finally decided on doing Cambodia and Vietnam for our mother daughter trip. Which ended up becoming my short solo trip in Siem Reap -> a mother daughter trip in Vietnam -> my mom’s short solo trip in Siem Reap
(Talk about the perils of working women and work leaves)
I arrived in Hanoi from Siem Reap at night only to see that my hotel driver hasn’t arrived yet. That is when I realised how valuable my Uber app is.
So after settling into a cosy bedroom at my boutique hotel (Check out La Beaute De Hanoi) I only wondered how I’m going to eat around Hanoi in the next couple of days.
And I did. But along with so much more.
Hanoi’s old quarter is perfect for travelers looking to get a true local experience. There is a buzz in this little heart of Hanoi that reminded me of old Kolkata. The narrow winding lanes with food peddlers, to local shops haggling with customers to rickshaws (tuk tuks) trying to get people to ride with them even for short walk able distances.
Even with this hustle and bustle, one can distinctly witness the feel of traditional Vietnamese customs, when you smell the local food, walk to the beautiful Hoan Khiem lake and watch local theatre. The place that was once a french capital still has those European influences that becomes more apparent when you discover small buildings and take a closer look at the place’s architecture.
The Saint Joseph Cathedral for example, reminded me of Paris’ Notre Dame at the first glimpse (which it was apparently inspired by). The charms of the oldest catholic church in the city is incomparable. While the church itself inspired by Notre Dame de Paris has a lot to show travellers, narrating tales with its bell towers and stained glass windows, the small cafes and restaurants surrounding the church was what further reminded me of Paris, making the French connection even more apparent.
So as I got introduced to Hanoi, I did more than sip on that delicious egg coffee, and dragged my mother to try Vietnamese spring roll and a small crummy cafe or later drag her to sit and eat Bun Cha just like a certain Mr. Obama did. I walked those streets of Hanoi in the rain, I sat by the lake with countless other tourists. I watched one of the nicest local theatrical performances at the local water puppet theater. I found myself learning about Hanoi in my own way, that is my favourite part about traveling. Moments that teach me and introduce me to a new place and Memories that I bring back with me after every visit.
Next – my little food experiences in Hanoi!