Friday, July 15, 2016

Short trip to Hanoi, Vietnam


After my trip to USA (USWC) in March, Baby and I decided it was time for a short getaway in early July. We purchased our air tickets from Tiger Airways to Hanoi, Vietnam in May. The flying time to Hanoi was 3hrs 15mins, and this was my first trip to Hanoi! However, this is my second trip to Vietnam, as I had been to Ho Chi Minh City previously. I really love the relaxed vibe, strong aromatic coffee, and cheap/delicious local food here in Vietnam!







 My 3 Day 2 Night Journey to Hanoi was fruitful. Entering the city was relatively easy, but do NOT accept any private car/taxi arrangement from the booths at the airport. They attempted to deceive us by offering a 500,000VND (SGD30-ish) fee for a car/taxi! Thankfully, Baby does really good research on place which we visit, and he knew that the fair amount for a taxi to town was only 300,000VND. Therefore, we found a private car owner near the taxi stands who agreed to take us to town for 300,000VND!


We arrived at our pre-booked hotel, the 'Hanoi Delano Hotel' which was located at the Old Quarter district of Hanoi. While checking in at the reception, the hotel staff served us fresh watermelon juice as a welcome drink!

  

I quite liked the hotel, as the room was cosy and spacious, and was rather clean. The staffs were friendly and helpful, and the location of the hotel was very good!









The journey from the airport to the hotel took less than 30 minutes, and along the way, I saw more cars on the road in Hanoi as compared to HCMC. However, the amount of Motorbike traffic here in Hanoi was equally huge as the whole city was filled with these buzzing machines! I find it quite thrilling to cross any road in Vietnam, as the onslaught of motorbikes onrushing towards you is quite the sight to behold. It is not a thing to do for the faint hearted, but the best way to actually deal with crossing the road is to keep a steady pace and cross boldly! Vietnamese drivers and motorbikes will actually avoid you as you cross the road, so you needn't fear. Of course, please do this with caution still!



  Our hotel stays was inclusive of breakfast, and the cafe was well-decorated and spread was rather good too.











 Before I continue blogging about my visit to the many attractions in Hanoi, I think I'll share some of Hanoi's local food specialities with you on my humble space!


The first local dish that I ate upon reaching Hanoi was the ubiquitous Banh Mi! Being a French colony during the colonial period, bread was introduced to the Vietnamese by the French, thereby giving birth to the Banh Mi!


This particular shop I got my Banh Mi had Corn Soy Milk as well, which I found really delicious!



During the planning phase for this trip, Baby chanced upon a news article of United States President making a trip to Hanoi, and he ate at a noodle restaurant with world renowned Chef Anthony Bourdain! Well, we had to obviously try this, so we made our way to 'Bun Cha Huong Lien' for lunch! We walked a fair bit to this eatery from our hotel, and it looked like any other ordinary Vietnamese noodle joint. However, the owner obviously couldn't believe his/her luck, and had decorated and festooned the entire area with photos of President Obama having lunch here. What a lucky windfall as I am sure this brought massive attention and revenue! From what I gather from this photo taken of Obama and Bourdain, the two men had actually sat down for dinner among the locals at the eatery place.



To affirm my point of the eatery's windfall, the eatery had an 'Obama Combo' for sale, and this consisted of 1 Bun Cha, 1 Fried Seafood Roll, and a bottle of Hanoi Beer! I was told that this was exactly what President Obama and Chef Bourdain had during their visit. Each set cost about 85,000VND (about SGD5-ish after conversion) so this was a fairly inexpensive meal!



'Bun Cha' is a traditional dish in Hanoi which consists of Grilled Pork, Rice Vermicelli, and Fresh Herbs that are served in a special broth/dipping sauce. It is a popular dish in the Northern Region of Vietnam. This was my first time eating the dish. I found the sauce rather sweet, yet savoury, but it complimented the grilled pork and rice vermicelli very well. What I really liked was the fried seafood roll, which I thought was very delicious and crispy.


 The restaurant 'Bun Cha Huong Lien' is known to locals for it's hygiene and food safety. However, I'm quite certain that President Obama has now made this the de facto place for tourists to try! Do visit 'Bun Cha Huong Lien' if you are in town!





We walked around the city and took some random photos before heading for our dinner at Old Quarter district as well.



'Cha Ca La Vong' is one of the most heavily touted dishes in Hanoi, hence we decided to give it a shot! This dish is essentially Grilled Fish with herbs, vegetables and accompanied by a series of Vietnamese Sauces and Spices, and can be eaten with noodles/vermicelli or rice. The catch of this fish is (hur hur)... you have to grill it yourself! We opted for 'Bun Cha' to accompany our dish, and we grilled the sliced fish on portable stoves placed on our table. By adding the various sauces and spices, as well as the crunched peanuts, we had quite the fish dish!


We also ordered the Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) to go along with our meal. It tasted delicious and crispy.

 
 

I ended my day with a cup of ice milk coffee from Highlands Coffee which cost us SGD2.40. Do stay tuned for my next post on the attractions I visited in Hanoi!




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