Next stop Hanoi!
To get to Hanoi from Huế I bought a train ticket from baolau.vn. Then it was a case of enduring a 12 hour train journey that set off around 6am heading all the way to the north.
I actually bought myself the best ticket you could which was a 4 bed soft sleeper compartment. It’s not bad for Vietnam but don’t expect amazing luxury… Someone had already been in my bed before me and I saw a couple rats scuttle across the floor at one stage. Also, I’ve refrained from posting a picture of the toilet onboard (great views for everyone outside)!
Still, I got to Hanoi train station in one piece and having endured enough crappy taxi drivers thus far, I decided i’d rather walk for 30 mins through Hanoi to get to my hostel.
I arrived at the huge Central Backpackers Old Quarter Hostel and having checked in, I noticed that at 7pm, confusingly everyone seemed to be in bed?? It certainly made it awkward to find out which bed was mine in darkness, and there wasn’t much space for my bag. Being me, I decided i’d put my bag down in the room and come back later… I was HUNGRY.
Food in Hanoi
I fancied a treat so went onto Tripadvisor and basically looked for a near-ish restaurant that had high reviews. I ended up at a one called Red Bean. No doubt I probably should have been slightly better dressed than the dirty stained clothes i’d travelled in for about 2 months, but hey, I had the money to pay and they didn’t say no.
It was good but pricey of course. Still i’m a sucker for expensive food.
Whilst i’m speaking food, here are some awesome places I ate whilst in Hanoi…
Highly advise this!!
Only a few minutes walk from the hostel, a little stall sells Banh Mi (a traditional Vietnamese Sandwich Baguette). Take away or eat on the little stools, with free bananas and iced tea. All for under £1.
This one comes with a massive caveat – which is i’m sure this is a great place to eat…if you can find it. I was highly advised this place by Lorna and Johnathan, my friends I met in Hoi An. Twice I searched for it using GPS to no avail. But if it exists, i’m sure it’s excellent. The images (one of which i’ve shamelessly stolen below) are just the definition of food porn.
Okay so weirdly enough in Vietnam i’d already had Mexican food in both Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An, but you know, you can never have enough Vietnamese Mexican food haha. It’s actually run by a few foreigners, with a cheap but small and tasty menu of items and a nice vibe. I went in the day but i’m sure it heats up more in the evening.
Only about a 2 minute walk from the hostel!
I got talking to a lot of people in the hostel. 3 of the girls in my hostel had only recently arrived and so I chatted to them and they ended up being my friends for about the next week of my travels.
The first girl was a blonde Australian called Anna. She was travelling around Asia for a little while before heading to the UK to work for 5 months, and then going off to South America. I befriended her when she arrived at the hostel and we had some drinks at the rooftop bar. We had some drinks, talked for ages, and then someone at the hostel said there was a bar crawl so of course we couldn’t say no to it!
We went with lots of other people from the hostel to a bar and started drinking the night away.
And then the place was shut by the police around midnight – apparently there’s a curfew for bars in Hanoi. No problem though, our bar crawl took us to a secret bar in a building that served alcohol and had a party past the curfew.
The next day me and Anna went with a couple of other girls from the hostel to the Museum of the Revolution. The other two girls were travelling together at the time. Mel was a ginger lady from the UK who was with Angella, a Canadian of Korean heritage. They had been speaking about travelling via the lonelyplanet forums and had never met until they started their travels together.
Of course, being terrible at planning, we all headed out to go to the museum which ended up being closed at lunchtime hours. So we sat on some park benches, waited a bit and finally entered.
The museum itself is quite big but not that interactive. It’s mostly lots of artefacts on the walls which doesn’t massively float my boat but at least I could say i’d done something in Hanoi right.
Remember this note?
Well I’m pleased to say in the evening I managed to catch up with Lorna and Johnathan, two awesome people I met in Hoi An. We had some drinks and food at a little pub style place in Hanoi before they headed back home and I headed to my next destination…
So how do you sum up Hanoi?
Well I think the picture I took above sums it up pretty well. I started off not liking Hanoi that much as I prefer smaller and quieter places than big cities. It’s bustling with motorbikes everywhere and constant activity, little stalls and all kinds of ways to spend a few dong (if you’re brave you could buy some raw meat in that picture, kept in 30 degree heat on the streets of course). By the end of my time in Hanoi I actually kind of liked it, for a city it’s very unique in it’s offering.