When we said goodbye to Hanoi, it wasn’t merely the end of another 91 day adventure. We were putting an end to six months in Vietnam. That is a serious chunk of time, and it really affected us. While packing our suitcases, our emotions were all over the place; there was both sadness and contentment, relief and regret, fulfillment and pride. I guess we were just feeling.
Walking around the streets of Hanoi, it’s impossible not to wonder how many treasures the city has locked away, safely out of the view of tourists. One of the most interesting we discovered is a colonial-era zoological collection on the second floor of the Hanoi University science building.
In seven years on the road, Jürgen and I had never once used our travel insurance. With all the adventures we’ve had, from an encounter with quicksand in Bolivia to paragliding in Macedonia, that’s a great track record. But in Vietnam, the streak came to a definitive end.
With its smaller, more historic downtown, Hanoi doesn’t have quite as many rooftop bars as Saigon. But there are still options… and over the course of 91 days, we discovered some great places to get a birds-eye view of Vietnam’s capital.
Just to the southwest of the city center lies Bát Tràng, a village which has been making ceramics for centuries. We spent a day here, touring a factory and admiring the ceramics being sold in just about every store in town.
A building dedicated to hip clothing shops, internet startups, art projects, and international cuisine, Hanoi Creative City (or HCC) is a unique addition to the capital’s cultural scene. We spent a few hours there, trying to fit in with the ambitious young entrepreneurs and artists.
Thirty kilometers to the southwest of Hanoi lies the village of Đông Sơn, known for its wicker products. We took a Grab Car to visit a small factory that produces wicker goods, and hoping to see the villagers at work.
Running from the historic Hàng Đậu Water Tank to the Botanic Gardens, Phan Đình Phùng has a reputation as Hanoi’s most beautiful road. We took a leisurely walk from one end of the street to the other, and would have a hard time disagreeing.
Good morning! Sleep well? I see that you’re hungry and could use a jolt of caffeine. How about an egg and a nice cup of coffee? No problem, here you go! But… why the troubled grimace? Didn’t you know that in Hanoi, we put the egg into our coffee?
Walking across the historic Long Biên Bridge is not for the faint of heart. As motorbikes blaze by and trains rumble past, pedestrians have to step along crumbling concrete slabs, with the Red River visible through the gaps, dozens of meters below.