Posted by: Googie | February 28, 2010

Exploring Hanoi

I woke up early to try and hire a motorcycle for the day. The guesthouse was quoting $10, but I knew I could get a better price. So I ventured out, and asked a motorbike taxi fellow. He asked for an outrageous 1 million dong (which works out to around $52). Then I met another guy who seemed to be agreeing on a good price, but because of the large communication gap between us, I had my doubts. I took him back to my hostel so that the guy at the reception could act as a translator. In the end, I was so glad I did that because apparently this motorcycle dude wanted $16 for letting me ride his bike for 3 hours with him sitting behind all the time… ya right!!!


Beautiful cathedral near my hostel

Then I walked to a street called Ta Hien where I’d heard that one could rent motorbikes for cheap, and got an excellent one for just $4. The pillion seat looked very uncomfortable, and that was a worry; but later we learnt that it was actually not bad at all.

Pavi came to the old quarter, and we went in search of a traditional Vietnamese breakfast, but without much luck 😦 So we ended up having a not-so-great semi-traditional Vietnamese lunch.

We visited a few pagodas before settling down to have tea at a lakeside coffee shop. It was a very quiet and peaceful location – perfect to just chill for hours simply reading or writing.


Perfect coffee place

We went to the pagoda on Hoan Kiem lake which has a mythical story about a large turtle returning a King’s sword to the depths of the lake where it rightfully belonged or some such. People who spot this large turtle are considered very lucky, but we weren’t.


The one-pillar pagoda

The next half an hour was spent just riding around the streets of the old quarter looking for the connections between street names and the wares on the streets, but it was rather disappointing. The westerners may find all this fascinating, but we were used to much more crowded, much noisier and way more colourful markets in India so there was no culture shock.


Pavi bai kelewaali

Some excitement was provided by our motorcycle running out of fuel, but that got fixed pretty soon. For coffee and an early dinner we went to the City View cafe next to Hoan Kiem lake. Slightly expensive, but highly recommended place for a beautiful view of the lake, and a nice breeze.


Road view from the City view cafe


Lake view later in the evening

After Pavi left, I returned the motorbike and came back to the hostel to witness a drunk man beating the living shit out of another dude. There was a fallen motorcycle lying nearby, and another person who tried to save the guy getting beaten also got a few pastings. There were some casual onlookers in nearby shops, but nobody seemed to care much. In Vietnam, depending on the situation, people tend to settle differences either with their vicious tongues or their fists, with hardly anyone approaching the cops. I, for one, did not act like a hero, and did not poke my nose into someone else’s business.

It was a pleasant surprise to meet Jamie & Johnny (from the UK) once again at my hostel. I had met them first in Phnom Penh, and we’d traveled in the same bus till Ho Chi Minh city.

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  1. My dear Googsha! You are lucky on your trip…. You get around the city so well.. you don’t need any guide.. 🙂
    I missed my train to Bayreuth so I am sitting in an internet lounge in Nuremberg, checking my email and reading your blog… my big hug, traveler ….
    I will talk to you soon…

  2. Hey Gauti.. sweet post and nice hanoi snaps.. actually first think stuck to my mind was “Tower of Hanoi” 😛 .. Happy traveling..

    • Haha… that’s a sign of being a good techie 🙂 Thanks!

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