Welcome to Vietnam!

After some really nice weeks back home, celebrating Christmas and New Year with our families and friends, we’re back on track. I flew to Rotterdam and stayed there a few days visiting my brother, and together with Richard we flew to London. Flights to Vietnam were cheaper from there, a perfect excuse to visit also my sister!

Now it’s time for Asia!

Welcome to Vietnam

Friday , January 25th

We flew to Vietnam via Kuala Lumpur . Woke up at 4am to get the earliest train to the airport ( special thanks to my sister for taking us to the train station…) and after a whole day travelling, we were finally in Hanoi.

Sunset at London Heathrow airport
Sunset at London Heathrow airport

We arrived to our hostel, which we booked for 3’5€ per night, breakfast included. Good deal, right? So far, when we were in Africa, we never went to hostels because it was never worth the price for two people. But here in Vietnam it’s soooo cheap, we just had to try!

As usual, we had not really planned what to do, so we went to walk around and visit what seemed to be the center of the city. Jet lag was killing us, so after a while we went back to our hostel and called it a day.

Saturday, January 26th

The next morning, we heard about a railway where life never stops, and joined our new friends from Legoutdumonde to go there. This railway is about 50cm away from the houses, shops, cafes, hostels… walking there seems to be perfectly fine!

Railway street in Hanoi
Railway street in Hanoi

After this, the little bit of culture that we need every now and then. We visited the literature temple. For a little over one euro you get to see the temple of Confucius. If you happen to be in Hanoi but don’t have time to visit the temple, just look at the 100.000 dong note. The temple is featured in it!

Literature temple in Hanoi
Literature temple in Hanoi

After some rest, we walked to the veeeery busy night market in Hanoi. We’re used to bargaining already after 3 months in Africa, but this is the cheapest country where we’ve been so far! I couldn’t resist and got some nice light trousers for 2’5€, and we tried some local street food. Everything was great!

Sunday, January 27th

Richard’s family arrives in Hanoi on March 11th, so we’re looking for something to do around the North of the country until they come. We have heard about Sa Pa, a mountain area where it’s possible to visit ethnic villages and do trekking around the rice fields. However, it seems like nowadays Sa Pa has become very touristic and not that authentic anymore.

Looking online and talking with other people, we decide to skip Sa Pa and go to Ha Giang instead. There’s a road along the mountains that passes some small mountain villages, this is called the Ha Giang loop. There’s buses that go from Hanoi, and then it’s possible to rent a motorbike in Ha Giang.

But we – or mostly Richard, as I’m always the scared one – decided to rent the bike in Hanoi and drive all the way to Ha Giang and the loop itself.

On search for a bike to rent, we asked at a hostel next to ours. They told us to come back in a bit, someone will show us a bike to rent. Half an hour later, an Irish guy picks us up with his motorbike and brings us to the garage Vietnamese style: three people on one bike. Don’t worry, mom. Traffic is crazy but as he said, “I don’t know how it works, but it just works”.

Renting a motorbike in Hanoi
Renting a motorbike in Hanoi

We decided to go for it, so we booked the motorbike. The guy brought us back to our hostel and we spent the evening looking for gloves and ponchos on the market, as weather in the North is usually cold and rainy.

Kids playing around Hanoi's market
Kids playing around Hanoi’s market

The next days we will ride towards Ha Giang for and do the famouse Ha Giang loop along the most beautiful mountain roads of Vietnam. You can read it here.

 

– Blanca

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