Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hanoi Day 1


An oasis of serenity amid chaos, I made my way to Hoan Kiem Lake...

Honestly, I arrived at Hanoi international airport penniless and without a solid plan on where to go for the next 4 days.  But I guess that's the beauty of traveling alone - not adhering to a rigid itinerary made by another person.  

After having my breakfast and ferreting information from the receptionist, I set out on my journey to Hoan Kiem Lake, the heart of Hanoi.  A what was supposed to be a 5-min breezy walk took me more or less 30 mins to get there made me realize that I really need to work on my map-reading skills. :))

In all fairness to me, I quite enjoyed getting lost along the labyrinth of streets of the old quarter.  It baffles me how a business can compete in those Hang (meaning merchandise) streets with the same goods selling in one row!  And also like I said before, even with the chaos on the ground you can just always look up and find some beautiful house architecture.

So the description above couldn't be more apt.  Hoan Kiem Lake offers a relaxing scene for locals and tourists alike.  In the northern part of the lake sits pretty a temple named Ngoc Son and is accessible via a scarlet bridge. A 20, 000 VND ticket is required to get inside.

After exiting this temple, I was approached by those motorcycle drivers who offered a tour of the city.  The natural thing for me to do was to say NO.  But after this late morning's fiasco on the way to the lake and reasoning out that this city doesn't offer subways (not to mention the thrill on getting on that bike!), I took the path of least resistance.  And I guess I could say that I was able to see a lot on my Day 1!

After having late lunch to the restaurant mentioned here, my driver took me to the following places:

Temple of Literature; Tran Quoc Pagoda; Central Sector;
One Pillar Pagoda;Uncle Ho's Museum.  Hoa Lo
Prison (not in the photo)

Like I said before, my favorite place would have to be the French Quarter or Ba Dinh district where all the government offices are located like the one below! :P  I was informed that this office below opens only when there are important visitors in the country.  Apparently, I wasn't VIP enough I can only afford a pic outside! :))

I went back to my hotel on my first day looking a bit toasted from the motorcycle ride (yay!), tired but happy!  Hopefully, I get to blog more on the French Quarter on the 3rd day.  This is adieu for now! ;-)

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