After Nha Trang we made our way to Hanoi.
Hanoi was also quite hectic, similar to Saigon, but a little more backpacker friendly. The streets had more of an old world feel to them, and there were plenty of twists and turns along the way. Crossing the street was always an adventure, and at night the main traffic circle was a congested mess.
Hanoi served as home base for a week and a half, and the jumping off point for a couple of trips to Ha Long Bay and Mai Chau. We stayed in the Downtown Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, and met some awesome people along the way. We’d typically start at the Original and then work our way back to our hostel to start the evening.
One item that was unique to Hanoi was Bia Hoi, this is fresh beer delivered daily and sold on the streets for 5,000 dong (roughly .$25) per glass. We had to give it a taste, but not something you want to drink very much of. It tasted like warm Milwaukee’s Best.
In terms of food, we both agreed the Pho wasn’t as good as Saigon, but we did have some great Bun Cha. Overall I wasn’t very impressed with the food in Hanoi, compared to Saigon, but then again I was dealing with a stomach bug so that could have soured the second half of my stay.
We did spend Thanksgiving in Hanoi, and it was certainly weird not to be with friends and family during this time. But we made it work with a pretty solid Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant run by an Aussie and a Canadian, called the Moose and the Roo. I also got to Facetime with my family, if only for a brief couple of minutes, it was great to see them!
One of the main attractions to see in Hanoi is the Ho-Chi Minh Mausoleum. Since we spent such a long time in Hanoi, we had no reason not to go. Ho Chi Minh is revered throughout all of Vietnam, and thousands of Vietnamese pay homage to him daily. The mausoleum is open ~3 hours a day, and it is guarded by armed military personnel. From what I understand his body is sent to Russia once a year for “maintenance” for lack of a better word. It was certainly erie, but an experience none the less.