Saturday, 23 March 2013

Hanoi - Adieu.

I spent four nights in Hanoi and it is one of those cities where one week would not be enough.

I did fall in love with the city and I was thinking I would love to have a little pied a terre there.

I think if you would went there, you would want one too.

How about this apartment in this late French colonial in the inner suburbs of Hanoi?
10 minute drive from the center of Hanoi.
Situated next to a great school.
And a great view of the reminder of the victory of the Vietnam War.
No, it is not scrap metal.
It is the remnants of a U.S. jet plane that crashed into the lake during the Vietnam War.
It's left there because it's a morale booster.

It was the beginning of blossom season and the trees were budding.

This is the renown single pillar pagoda - as the name denotes - it is made from one pillar.
This was located right opposite the Ho Chi Minh Memorial.
There was the usual story line of the man's life and there was a rather sizable internal monument.
A statue of the leader of the new nation that is now independent Vietnam.
I find it odd how how gigantic and ostentatious the memorials are to men who were supposedly revolutionary simple communist men.

This was the "supposed" residence of Ho Chi Minh.
They like to say he chose to stay here as opposed to the ostentatious presidential palace below which was right next door.
It was a simple lakeside cabin with two rooms on top and a open meeting area downstairs.
The downstairs meeting area.
His private study upstairs.
Simple but it was quite Frank Lloyd Wright-esque.
I would not have minded living there myself.

I kept walking on the general compound that housed all these monuments and found this neglected house.

Forget that other flat - I will take this do-er upper!
And of course nearby were these beauties.

I came across the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum as they were doing changing of the guards.
It's nice they want to protect him but I really wanted to remind someone that he is already dead and doesn't need protection.

I dropped in on this trendy cafe in the street where most of the embassies were located.
Had my third of the Viet style coffee of the day that I was becoming addicted to.
I then saw a delivery guy unloading the goods that you see:
2 huge bottles of water. a case of coke, and four crates of beer - 
on a moped!
This is Hanoi Flag Tower - 200 year old fortress tower but I just like the Vietnamese flag matching the coffee shop parasols.
You know there are certain people who you wouldn't cross the street to say hello to?
Well, Lenin is one of those for me.
Monument to Lenin

I had no idea what was behind the wall that had aged so interestingly.
So I decided to peer through the gates that happened to be a major tourist attractions with various buildings and monuments.  I would have known if I did research so there is a downside to being so spontaneous...

Another wedding photo shoot.
This is the reverse Romeo and Juliet pose.

This was another one of many Taoist temples in Hanoi.
I was really surprised at how Taoist instead of Buddhist Vietnam was - even more so than China.
I adore this embroidered fabric cloth that was a totem used in Taoist ceremonies.
This temple was just opposite the famous Westlake.

I found these fish by the path alongside the lake.
They were flopping about and I wanted to throw it back and just as I  about to pick it up...
I realized that they were someone's catch...
This was a very popular fishing spot.
Mind you the lake is huge for being located in the center of Hanoi. Its shore length is 17 km.
My destination was the pagoda on a little islet on Westlake.
The little pathway leading to the pagoda.
No wearing shorts or no short people?
This was a Buddhist pagoda.
There were individual Buddhas in each little enclave of this pagoda.
This was originally constructed 1400 years ago.
I decided to walk to Long Bien Bridge which was built in 1899.
I got lost and didn't make it but enjoyed the walk trying to find it.
Along the way  I found entrepreneurship.
Love the makeshift barbershop.
You gotta watch out for those chicks on street corners.
But she wasn't that much of a naughty bird because she wasn't wearing red shoes.
The heat was still 30 degrees higher that what I was used to so hydrated with coconut juice and I never had a small opening cut for me like this...

You can't get fresher chicken than this.
Walked by some more beauties...

This is the standard way of carrying things in Vietnam.
Look at how much is being carried.

I tried lifting it and I didn't even get it off the ground.
The women may be tiny but they are super Iron man strong.

Hanoi is just a general wedding hall.
Never seen so many weddings in a matter of days...

Love the Vietnamese women riding mopeds and still being stylish.
Hanoi is starting to catch on with working all the time even on the back of a moped.

A friend told me that there was a special rate she could give me for one night through her connections so I decided to check out of my hotel in Chinatown.

This hotel was so good I would recommend it and would stay there again.
I will miss this little alley.

And I went and checked in for one night at the Sofitel Metropole.
The fabled hotel where Graham Green stayed and wrote not to mention a lot of other writers.

Yep, another wedding shoot by the famous terrace cafe at the hotel.
What's with the straw briefcase?

I wanted to see the Graham Green suite but it was occupied.  
But I got lucky and got an upgrade!
You see the open door balcony in the center?
That was mine.
I told my husband and showed him via facetime and he was scared someone could climb in...
He can be such a killjoy sometimes.

The lush and beautiful grounds.
The lobby - simple but the hotel is just over a hundred years old.
This open atrium with the chandelier over the lobby must have been a real innovative feature.
Do you see the banister on the center left of the picture below?
That lead to the war bunker that the guests used during the bombings in the Vietnam War.

There was a tour for the guests of the hotel to view the bunkers.
I just had to look around and notice how odd it was that there was a bar on the left.
A lovely pool to the right and yet underneath this was a shelter.
So I walked down and there was this very apt placard at the entrance.
The new management decided to start a tour only in the past few years.
Joan Baez and Jane Fonda would be some of the guests ushered down here during the raids while they were staying at the hotel.
They were able to hold about 50 people down in these little bunkers at one time.

The hotel also served as the Australian embassy after the war for a few years and apparently the Australians used it as a wine cellar and they found a few bottles when they were cleaning out the bunker!
Went for my dinner and my nightly two hour massage back at my old neighborhood.
This temple was a little spooky as it was empty and I was the only one there.

I also decided to go to a water puppetry show that the Vietnamese are masters at.

It was really cute and the puppets had quite a sophisticated range of movement.
The performers came out for their applause at the end of the show.

Pho the love of God.
I had this Vietnamese noodle dish called Pho every night.
This pho shop just happened to be on my original street.
It is called Pho Suong.
If you go to Hanoi - please try it out.
The locals were riding mopeds to come here and eat.
There was a table inside but I wanted to eat on the street just once.
So I grabbed a stool and ate with mopeds whizzing by.
This was the little massage place where I would have my two hour massages that cost $12.
Well, $15 if you include the tip. Loved it.
The girls were a bit shy to get their photo taken.
So after the massage I went back to my new home for the night 
and saw this.
I never had dogs so I didn't know what this was but took the picture because I thought it was funny.
But then I showed the concierge to ask what this was and he explained in a very embarrassed way!

I really wanted to have a drink in the bar at the hotel hoping some of the writers' luck might rub off on me so I went to the bar. 

Technically not alone because I took my iPad and talked to Mr. Coulda Shoulda Woulda on facetime!

The next morning I went for my final breakfast in Chinatown and I knew I had become a quasi local because I crossed this street with no hesitation and lived to tell the tale!

I quickly dropped by to the Opera house just next to the hotel.
There was a great cafe just next to the Opera house and had my last Viet style coffee.
I finally got to see Long Bien Bridge which was designed by 
Gustave Eiffel on the way to the airport.

Some people are into plane watching but I love going under bridges. 

I was so sad to be leaving.  
I never thought I would be saying I would miss Hanoi.

Took me for a surprise and I hope if you haven't already been then please do visit.


  1. I see that you had a wonderful time! So happy for you! What a magnificent city..the remnant of the jet that crashed is a little perplexing but I guess it is a memory that the people wish not to forget..

    Loving the photos, especially the French quarter! Beautiful!!

    -Lauren at adorn la femme

    1. Hi Lauren, Thanks - it really was a great time. Yes that jet was a bit weird - I heard about it and had to see it for myself! x

  2. Oh my favourite PHO...How I miss my PHO...
    Somehow I agree with your husband, with that easily accessible belcony. Then again, some of us are more JuJitSu-ly confident than others...Thanks for the insights & lovely blogs...xx

    1. Yes I miss my pho as well - those doughnuts were a special touch I never tried in Melbourne before.

      I shall tell Mr CSW that someone agrees with him about the balcony.

      Thank you for your kind words x

  3. Quelle delicious trip!

    Graham Greene, La Fonda, ms. baez and ice coffee and weddings both with ladder poses and straw briefcases

    You are a delicious guide.

    We shall come again to travel further afield once more.

    (and bless you for the Visit here :)


    tg xx

    1. Yes it was delicious and a great after taste as well.

      Very moreish - Thank you for your visit and and your compliment - waving with mittens from London!

  4. It's not a place that was ever on my radar, but I've really enjoyed seeing it through your eyes. Such a lot to see and do! I'm not surprised you were reluctant to leave.

    1. Yes, it never was on mine either. In fact, people kept asking me just before my trip if I was going to go there and I said No! Does nothing for me I said and now I am already planning next year's itinerary!

  5. An amazing experience!! I spent 3 wonderful weeks in Vietnam and would love to go back!!

    1. Yes it was - lucky you to have done 3 weeks and have had the foresight! I can't wait to go back...


  6. Looks like a very interesting experience! I really want to travel around asia while i'm living in Seoul... but it's hard to find time!!


    1. Oh you must take advantage of the locale and travel as much as you can while you are nearby! You are lucky that you could do long weekends - you won't regret it...

  7. Bonitas fotografĂ­as!!

    1. Gracias, no tengo una SLR pero voy a practicar tomar mejor fotos!

  8. I really liked Hanoi when I visited a couple of years back! Great place!! Thanks so much for your lovely comments - and how cool that you used to live near Como Park (me too by the way!) - I always go there for running and workouts!! :)
    Kristina x

  9. looks so beautiful !

    1. Yes it was - and you should think about it for your next trip!

  10. Loved your Vietnam posts. I love Hanoi too.. we never got to stay at the Metropole, as it was full, but stayed at the Hilton Opera (think, or was it a Hyatt). Very nice. I used to find crossing the street quite a thrill I have to say. You really do feel like you've cheated death multiple times a day. As for the food. Yum I love the Hot Pots, and I would completely have been like you about the Spring rolls, they're so, so good. It's just a fantastic city for wandering around and exploring and observing. xx

    1. Thanks Heidi. I think your hotel was only a few buildings away from the Metropole.

      You are right about the thrill - I was on constant alert. But I was so chuffed when I crossed the street and the fresh off the boat tourists were saying - wow look at her cross the street! I wanted a badge...
      I wish I tried more foods but I found something great and just stuck with it! xx

  11. Goodness me, you have made it look so inviting, yet it's not somewhere I would have considered going before. Wouldn't mind staying within one of those apartments with that view.

    When I was reading what you had to say about Ho Chi Minh, it reminded me of how they have been describing the new pope - a man who likes simple things and appears to have kept his feet firmly on the ground. I say 'simple' relatively speaking because his home still looks amazing even though it's not palatial as such.

    I giggled at the fish incident, can you imagine, someone probably sat there for a good few hours catching them and within minutes you would have put them back in the water ha ha.

    Was that tomato ketchup you were putting on the PHO? lol

    Your hotel looked amazing too - it comes to something when a hotel offers a tour of the..... hotel.

    Sounds like you are continuing to have a great time hun xx

    1. Yes and that is why I thought Hanoi deserved two posts on it - one post would have been cheating it of its glory and mind you I only stayed 4 nights...

      Yes, the "revolutionary" had so many memorials it made the pope look rather middle class darling...

      Seriously - could you imagine what the fisherman would have done - he would have flung me out to the lake along with the fish!!!

      That was chili not tomato ketchup!! They love their chili over there ;)

      Yes the hotel I stayed in on the last night was amazing and the tour was only for hotel guests and that was part of my motivation to stay there.

      I am back now - and not adjusting to this crazy weather by the way! xx

  12. I have always, always wanted to go to Vietnam and it may take a little bit longer to get there it will stay on the list. Not sure how child friendly it is but I am sure it will happen one day.
    I am your newest follower. Love your blog and your writing.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I actually already follow you on BLoglovin - GFC is apparently finished on July so I don't tend to follow people on there but I have noticed comments don't link well on BLoglovin.

      You would love it and I will say that as with most Asian countries - people love children - especially western kids as they are still quite a novelty! They would get spoiled rotten by everyone :)

  13. It looks beautiful- somewhere I have always wanted to go! The house looks stunning!

    Enjoy your trip!

    Sarah XxX

  14. These are such lovely photos! I've never been to Asia but would loooove to go!

    1. Thank you but I can not recommend it highly enough!

  15. Amazing place & beautiful photos !
    I would love to visit one day :)

  16. Hanoi looks amazing - a really interesting and varied place.
    Wonderful to stay in such an iconic hotel and I would love to see the water puppets which I have read about before (and I'm keen to try Pho too) I love the Far East and we have travelled there many times. We had recently been talking about going to Vietnam.

    1. Hi Miss B, I think you would enjoy Hanoi and I would love to see your take on it! The water puppetry would be a huge hit with children in the UK - I cant believe it isnt shown more...I really hope you go soon!

  17. Incredibly interesting post, thank you. I've never considered Vietnam as a travel destination but I really want to go now.

    1. Thank you for coming by! I didn't even consider it either but now am almost stunned to think I didn't go.

  18. Ohhh wow! I didn't know you went without your husband! Did you just go alone on the trip?? HA, my husband would say the exact same thing about the balcony. I would love to be brave enough to do that one day.

    Really love the neglected house you talked about. And the a girl with half Asian roots, my mouth was watering at first glance of the Pho.

    1. Hey Danie, Yep, I sure did go on my own. The pho was even better in real life - never knew that simple broth could be that tasty!

  19. that looks amazing!! never been there before!

  20. Great photos! You've made me want to go even more! The food alone is enough to get me there, I love pho! Umm...those dogs! I've had dogs but I can honestly say I haven't seen this before..haha I can imagine the concierge!!

    1. Gosh - I wish I had asked the concierge at the not posh hotel - but oh no, I was like - excuse me, what are these dogs doing? The concierge goes and has a conversation with two other employees and then he goes takes a breath and says, Mating madame. I think we both wish I didn't ask!!

  21. What district is the Calypso Legend Hotel in? Is it in a good area, i.e. safe and clean? You mentioned that you would recommend it and would go back yourself but then you said you checked into the Sofitel in the next line! Hahaha!

  22. Hi Emily, it was in Chinatown and three minutes by the main lake and by the puppet theatre. It was an amazing location! Yes I did go to the Sofitel but only bc it is an institution and they had a special tour only for guests. But I actually preferred the calypso the only fault is that it doesn't have a pool! But really it is amazing quality and value. If you go to Hanoi then do please check it out you won't regret it!

    1. Hi! I found your blog today and although I'm super happy you had a great time in Hanoi, I have to point out that there's no Chinatown here, those streets with tiny houses and small shops near the Lake are collectively called the Old Quarter :)


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