Hanoi, Vietnam.


Note: You might be wondering why you haven't seen this post before.  The entry was written and published on October 29.  However, since this is one of my 'backblogs', I moved the entry's publishing date back to September 19 for chronological orderliness :) 

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, will be celebrating its 1,000th year this October. Too bad I missed the big celebration by only a few weeks! 

Christmas lights all over Hanoi!




I stayed at Melia Hotel which was around 30 to 40 minutes away from the airport.  According to reviews I've read, Melia is a 5-star hotel more known as a venue for big conferences and meetings.


Bedside.
The room was nice and comfortable.  It had a queen-sized bed, an office desk, a couch with a futton, a fridge, spacious cabinets containing bathrobes, hangers and slippers and a flat screen TV. 


Orchid from Thai Airways.
Sleepy time.

The bathroom had a shower AND a bathtub!  And I have to commend Melia on their toiletries.  It's rare to find hotels with bathtubs providing bath foam.  Usually, I have to use the liquid bath soap to make bubbles.


Really good line of toiletries.
Hand soap.

I was up and early the next morning.  Opened my window and was pleased with the view I saw.  From the photo below, you could still see the influence of the French existing in Hanoi.  


View from my room.

Another thing I liked about Melia hotel is their breakfast buffet. There was so much food, I didn't know where to start! And because there were tons of choices, surely there was something for everybody --- American, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, meat-eaters, cheese-lovers, weight-watchers, adults, kids --- everyone!

The center buffet table.

Korean, Japanese and Chinese section.

The salad bar.
Lots and lots and lots of fruits!

Juices and milk.

Cereals!
The parts I liked the most were the yogurt section, the bread panel and the cheese spread.  Forgot to take photos of the main courses though.  Usually they were Asian favorites, specifically Vietnam or Chinese. 


Love love love cheese.

Yogurt and mixed fruits (one of my favorite sections!)

Another favorite of mine -- the bread section!

Tried to eat everything especially during the 1st breakfast day but silly me, I forgot to try the Vietnamese noodle soup called Pho!


Omelette and Pho station.

Day 1: Plate #1.

Day 1: Plate #2.

Day 1: Plate #3.. And a number of other plates following this :D

The next day, I got to try Melia Hotel's Chinese restaurant called the El Oriental.   It was a sit down lunch so I couldn't really let the glutton inside me free ;)


The set menu.

Melia Hanoi appetizer platter.

Crabmeat soup with young corn.

Steamed seabass fillet with soya sauce.

That same day, our host treated us to coffee and then cocktails in the hotel.   As usual, the food was good.  One thing I noticed was that there was always noodles and rice in all of their meals.  Imagine seeing rice being served during cocktails!  I've never experienced that, not even in the Philippines, a rice-loving country.


Best with coffee.
 
Cocktail plate #1

Cocktail plate #2

I finally got to roam the streets of Hanoi on my 3rd day.  Luckily, our hotel was only a few minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake which, I believe, is the center of Hanoi.


One of the structures around the lake.

Hoan Kiem Lake literally means "Lake of the Restored Sword".  The place reminded me of Burnham Park in Baguio City, only with a bigger lake.


The sign at the back probably says, "Keep Off The Grass" :))

The park was full of people even at night.  I didn't get scared walking around since there were a number of old men and women exercising, people jogging, friends just hanging out and couples making out.  There were also souvenir shops around but I don't suggest buying from them because their prices are way too high.


Fans.

The most beautiful structure I've seen around the area was the bright red Huc Bridge.  The bridge's name literally means "Morning Sunlight" and is the only means to get to the Ngoc Son Pagoda located at the middle of Hoan Kiem lake.  


The bridge is especially pretty at night because of the lights :)

Our mission that night was to look for this hole-in-the-wall somewhere in the Old Quarter.  One of us who has been there guaranteed that the place served the best grilled fish noodle dish in the whole of Vietnam.  Problem was, she forgot where it was.


Taking a picture and crossing the street?  Bad idea.

Looking for the place wasn't an easy task, I tell you.  Finding a place without any clue inside the Old Quarter is like finding a needle in a haystack since it is literally a maze of little alleys and streets. 


A glimpse of the Old Quarter.

Interestingly enough, the Old Quarter used to be a snake and an alligator-infested swamp.  Throughout the years, however, people transferred there to sell their merchandise turning it into a crafts market.  It was amusing to see streets dedicated to a single merchandise.  There was a street that only sold bags, a street that only sold shirts, a street that only sold toys and so on. 


A modern structure beside the Old Quarter: The Thai Village.

And if you know a bit of French, brush up on the language!  Since Vietnam was a French colony, it's more likely to find someone who speaks French than English.   I discovered this fact because after walking for hours and unsuccessfully trying to ask directions from the Vietnamese on the streets, I saw a sign that said, "Nous parlons fran├žais ici" (we speak french here).  I hurried inside and asked where the place that served the best grilled fish was, thankful that I wasn't absent during the lecture on 'how to ask directions' while I was attending French school.

After hours of searching, we finally found the place!

La Vong is a very small restaurant that has been serving only one dish for more than 100 years.  Yes, you got that right.  No menus, no nothing.  The only thing similar to a menu is a laminated sign that says "GRILLED FISH VND 120,000*".  Interesting huh?  Check out the video below:




The next night was devoted to going around the Old Quarter looking for gifts to bring home to family and friends.  The best souvenirs to buy in Hanoi are shirts, silk scarves, bags and wallets.   I also suggest looking for a convenience store to get dried durian or dried taro chips.

After walking around for a few hours, I started to crave for spring rolls.  At first, we asked the people in the street where we could find the best ones.  But because of a bad experience of getting lost yesterday, we decided to just go to the tourist center near the Thai Village to ask for recommendations.    


Really craving for authentic Vietnamese spring rolls that night!

The tourist guide gave us a few places, all of which are located in Ma May street.  Guess you could call that the spring roll street.  We chose a place that had a promiscuous-sounding name but which was innocently based on its address --- 69 Bar and Restaurant located at 69 Ma May Street.


Decor.

The restaurant is actually a 300-year old two-storey building but I wouldn't have guessed it was that old with how they fixed the place.  The restoration was done so beautifully! 


Altar with offerings.

The first floor housed the bar and few tables while the second floor was mainly a dining area.  We took the table on the first floor near the stairs.


Their menu.

I got their bestseller --- Ban Cha Hanoi.

Hungry!

I couldn't believe that my order only costs VND 69,000*.  The serving was humongous!  Not to mention that the noodles probably equaled almost 3 cups of rice ;)


Happy happy happy :)

The next day, my flight home was delayed so I had time to roam around the airport to look for more gifts to buy.  I found something really interesting but I wasn't sure if the Philippine customs would allow me to bring it inside the country.  It's an alcoholic drink called Phi Long.


There's a real cobra and scorpion inside each bottle.. Intense!


During my trip, I had the Everlater application installed on my iPhone so you can check out the posts I wrote in real time while I was there by clicking on the link below the map:





Since I was in Hanoi for a conference and didn't have much time to tour around, here are other places I intend to visit the next time I go to Hanoi (hopefully for leisure this time):

  • Hanoi Opera House
  • Ho Chi Minh Museum
  • One Pillar Pagoda
  • The Temple of Literature
  • Water Puppets Theatre








*approximately $1 = VND 20,000

3 comments

  1. joei, you look very chic.
    i love the meals, esp. the spring roll and the cocktail#1. the steamed sea bass looks very delicious too.:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow! sosyal,ganda ng accomodations.

    ReplyDelete

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♥ joei