Hanoi – The madness, the madness…

Well, i’ve just been for my first wander around. Woke up this morning with my jaw hurting, which wasnt a good start, so i ate a couple of fruit that Ha brought me yesterday (very nice of her, they look like limes from the outside but you can eat the whole thing), took some painkillers and it seemed to clear up after breakfast.

Took a wander down to Hoan Kiem Lake, which isnt far, but the streets are so packed together its actually a bit of nightmare to navigate, and streetsigns are intermittent at best. But i found a few landmarks to help, the little street food place Ha took me to last night and theres a big cathedral down the street. Got approached by a few people while wandering round, some obviously selling things and some apparently friendly, but i’d already been warned that people like that usually want something.

I was surprised that most of the people in the hotel (which is very nice generally) arent particularly chatty, which is a bit disappointing. I really need to find some people to talk to, preferably native english speakers, about some basic things. Like where to rent a bike, and where to keep it (apparently you shouldnt just leave them on the street, although everyone does), whether you get food by just going into a place and sitting down (there dont seem to be menus, and Ha asked in Vietnamese when we went there last night), and loads of other little things.

Going to take a wander down by the cathedral again shortly. The backpackers hostel is near there, and i need to see about moving there in a couple of days (the hotel is lovely, but too expensive for me to stay very long), and apparently theres a bar nearby called the polite bar where the expats go to watch football. Could be good for finding someone to talk to. Need to text a guy i spoke to online about meeting up, and text Ha too. Annoyingly, theres no reception in my hotel room though.


Well, i got some things done. Found the backpackers hostel and got myself booked in for the day after next, so thats a definate plus. Seems quite nice down there, think there will be plenty to do. They do western food too, which will be nice in desperation, though i’m doing my best to avoid it since i actually really like all the vietnamese food i’ve had so far.

Was meant to be meeting a guy called dave i spoke to on the internet today. His hotel is only a few streets away from a famous spot known as “international bia hoi” corner, which i managed to find (despite it looking pretty much exactly the same as everywhere else), but from there, i was hopelessly lost. Which brings me to –

Navigation. I thought i wasn’t bad at navigation. I can read a map, use a compass, have a basic sense of direction. I thought i’d be fine. I was wrong. Hanoi at night is a nightmare, and clearly setup specifically to be challenging for those with an inflated sense of their abilities. I got lost 3 times walking to the bia hoi corner and back, and its no more than 10 mins walk. Clearly the Vietnamese dont want to make things too easy for people, the sadistic bastards. So not only are street signs intermittent (labelled at one end if at all), many of them have multiple names, completely unrelated, as well as changing their names multiple times along their length. Added to which, the streets arent laid out in any real pattern, blocks of buildings can be square, triangular, l-shaped, pentagrams. I’ll probably find the ones shaped like stars, circles and humourously shaped turnips tommorow.

The only thing i haven’t found is anyone really to chat to. I said hello to a few people at the backpackers hostel, and they were polite, but not really chatty. I definately need to abandon my british reserve though, its not really going to do me any favours at all here. I’m sure i’ll get chatting to people more when i move down the hostel anyway. On the other hand, i’m really beginning not to care! Its lovely here, and crazy, i can find my own way round (eventually!), and theres plenty to see. Think i’ll go to the Vietnam History Museum tomorrow, and theres a temple on the way…

Oh, the only think i haven’t done is take any bloody photos yet. Seems like anywhere you can stand to to take a picture that would capture the madness, really isnt safe to stand! Its too dark to take any now, you’d only see the first 10 feet with flash, and just get a blur without, so i’ll take some in the morning.

Incidentally, my room, despite being lovely and clean, smells slightly of feet, but i’m really not sure if its me or the room…


~ by zendog888 on 23/10/2010.

3 Responses to “Hanoi – The madness, the madness…”

  1. Trev says you clearly get your navigation skills from the mothership. Also Ive started wearing your clothes while you are away, may start a blog of my own wearing your clothes in different places around the valley, i could do 5 pages of posts of me in different leather jackets.

    • You wore all my clothes anyway, if only because mum cant tell the difference… And feel free to tuck into the leather jacket collection, the only ones i want to keep are on the back of the door anyway! Also, i think dad said he wouldnt mind having a free jacket if you’re heading down that way 🙂

  2. enjoying your wonderful blogs, so jealous that I’m too old to be doing anything like this (not jealous of the chosen form of transport tho’, lol)
    fab pics too

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