Checking into Hanoi backpackers, there were 10 of us; me, Sam, Yolly, Alisha, Bobby, Elliott, Amanda, Mitch, Michael and Amy. We had a twelve bed dorm which was cool, all together!
Hanoi is crazy. There are so many motorbikes there it’s unreal. Crossing the road is a nightmare so you just have to wave at the oncoming traffic then boldly walk slowly across the road as they dodge around you, scary! Also street sellers accost you and try to make you buy bamboo hats and yams at every opportunity.
There is a corner called “Beer corner” where vendors sell Bia Hoi for 5000 VND (Vietnamese Dong) . Considering there’s 33,000 to £1, that’s cheap! When they hear the police come they hide the signs, it was amusing to watch them scramble.
On our second day in Hanoi, I read a map! (Shocked myself). Exploring the old quarter, we went to the lake that is the centre of Hanoi. There was a temple in the middle with an embalmed tortoise in but we didn’t go to that.
There were also lots of wedding photo shoots going on, I’m not really sure why.
Next, we went to the jail. Hoa Lo prison is where anti-government rebels were kept (and later American POWs). It was sad but interesting to learn more about Vietnam. Also we learnt that a lot of women fought for their rights in Vietnam and were imprisoned.
We saw a guillotine once used in the prison and the solitary confinement room with shackles!
There were a few escape plans that worked during it’s time as a prison, including a group of prisoners who got through some cut bars in the sewage system. It shows how thin they would have been.
After the jail we got some food in a cafe overlooking the lake. It was the best meal I’d had in Asia!
We wandered to Hanoi market but it was like a jumble sale and massively tacky so didn’t linger there too long!
Whilst walking back to the hostel the boys helped out a motorbike driver with his load – they really do take everything on the bikes!
I saw a card for my Dad in Hanoi but I don’t think it would have travelled well!
That evening I was so tired I chilled out on my own at the hostel whilst everyone else went to a snake restaurant. They bring you the snake and let you eat it’s beating heart before cooking it into 7 courses (including snake bone rice) washed down with snake blood and snake bile in rice wine. I’m so glad I didn’t go for that, I was happy with my chicken sandwich!