Yesterday morning I arrived in Hanoi, and annoyingly so, my visa to allow me to stay in the country for longer than two weeks was approved within an hour of me leaving the airport. At the hostel I was asked what my plans in Vietnam are and have had up until I get a train to Hue sorted out for me.
I tried not to do a lot yesterday and felt very much as though I had to be switched on – the roads are a complete nightmare to cross and you literally have to walk into the traffic and hopefully won’t get hit by a car/bus/moped. My internal monologue whilst crossing is along the lines of “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck ohhh shit.” I’ve seen people carrying things just sellotaped to the back of their bike, as well as a parent riding with what must’ve been a one-year-old child in between his legs.
I went to the Hao Loa Prison museum, which was used by the French to imprison the Vietnamese and later on used by the Vietnamese to imprison the Americans during the Vietnamese War. Most of the museum was based on how the Vietnamese were treated when they were inside, though it was interesting to hear about how the Americans were treated inside – a lot, lot better. After I went to check into the hostel properly, nap, and go to the road where the train passes through a few times per day.
The Hanoi Train Street is different because instead of traffic, bar a few mopeds, it’s a pedestrian road with train tracks which you can walk on (obviously not when the train’s coming). There’s a few bars there that are like hostel bars, where they encourage the foreigners to have a “Choo Choo Beer” and chat – the staff yell out “Choo Choo” when they give you the beer.
Today, I went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which I wasn’t fussed by, and then the Citadel, which I still wasn’t fussed by. After some pho, spring rolls and a Vietnamese Coffee I headed to the History Museum which I was expecting to be modern history, but instead it was more archaeology based. The area around is quite nice with a lake and stuff, but I didn’t feel it was worth going to. On the way back to the hostel I picked up some Bahn Mi and was inside when it started pissing down.
Overall, I think I’ve struggled with the city, but then it is very different to anywhere I’ve experienced. I’ve eaten better than anywhere else so far, and I think if I give Vietnam a chance then I’ll get used to the chaos and really like it here.
Tomorrow I’m off to Ha Long Bay overnight which is one of the reasons why I chose to come to Vietnam. I’ve heard from the people that I’ve spoken to who have already been that it’s definitely worth a visit.