12 April 2017

Hanoi, a love letter

A (well overdue) love letter to Hanoi 

After spending so long in the rural areas of Laos and our first week in Vietnam in the suburban parts of the country we were well over due that city buzz feeling. When we first arrived in Hanoi the hustle and bustle was like heaven to me; the last time I had that feeling was when I first moved to Manchester 4 years ago. From back alley shabby chic coffee shops, to affordable boutique style clothes shops, and - the best part - live music venues we felt able to identify ourselves within the city in no time at all. It actually made me pretty homesick as we were spending our time in a similar way to how we would back in Bristol or Manchester, minus our wonderful friends. Exploring arty back alleys lined with quirky shops, sitting off in the sunshine down by the water and seeking out a decent bar with live music as the sun sets. Hanoi was also our first real introduction to Vietnamese foods like pho and bun cha, and the incredibly low prices they come at! Every corner of Hanoi's streets is jam packed with happenings you feel urged to get involved in, and if you get the chance to look up from these bustling streets you'll see the overlooking rustic Parisian style apartments that give the place a sense of stylish chic. We first found it funny, and then extremely helpful that shops selling the same product are all placed along the same street, so for example you have sunglasses street, ceramics street, stainless steel street and shoe street. Although amusing this helped us to learn the city like the back of our hand. There's definitely something romantic about being able to comfortably navigate a city that's not your own. We also enjoyed the cultural side of the city wondering through beautifully curated exhibitions at The Woman's Museum, The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum and The Ho Chi Minh Museum as well as the very beautiful and ancient Temple of Literature. We were more than happy to be returning to Hanoi 5 times all in all, it was our to-and-fro base whilst we stayed and Everest and then visited the north. We both agreed that Hanoi was like an affordable Paris & London for us. A capital city bursting with activity and creative drive, but without the expensive price tag attached. I can't wait until the day we return, perhaps for longer next time...

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