Getting to HKIA on the A21 was a piece of cake again, and I checked in, glided through security and immigration, got on the plane and promptly fell asleep so the 2 hour flight from Hong Kong to Hanoi went without a glitch. Thank you travel gods.
Plan in Vietnam? Hang out in Hanoi for a couple of days and go to Halong Bay again before heading for Laos. The main reason for doing this is the convenience of flights and times. The other reason was that the last time I was in Halong Bay, it was in December and it was cold, foggy and I didn’t fully enjoy the experience.
Where am I staying
Flower Hotel, just outside the old quarter is a decent hotel. 10 minutes walk to the Lake. Well, longer if you’re like my mum (love you) and scared of crossing roads when they are teeming with lorries, cars, bicycles, carts, other people. Sheesh. My motto is don’t show fear and just go for it. It always works 😬.
My room was actually a suite. My own little kitchen (of no use), my own lounge (of no use), my own massive wardrobe (of no use). Nice bedroom though!
- Grubbiness factor: non existent. Everything was very clean
- Bed – 7/10 softer pillows that I would have liked, but I slept like a baby. Still not sure if it was because of the bed or the 1.5 hour massage I had.
- Shower – 6/10. Hot water, did the job but points lost due to a fixed shower head – pointing upwards!!
What did I eat?
Breakfast were included in the hotel. Nice selection of fruit (dragonfruit – yay!! Love it), western and Vietnamese options, a few pastries. I saw beans and got all excited. Oh my word. They were vile. Tasteless and full of sugar.. The coffee was OK.
I didn’t bother with breakfast after that, and in all honesty it was good to take a break – I feel I’m eating waaay too much. No lunches either, just some nuts and fresh ripe mango.
Dinners? One night I went to Yin Yang and yes, loads of options for me but I had to make it clear – no fish sauce. One of the responses was ‘little bit ok’? ‘No, no ok!’ I went for the veggie spring rolls. The filling was tasty and they were hot but as GREASY as hell with darkened undebellies. Not impressed.
What did impress though was my main of fresh tofu with tomatoes and mushrooms – served with sticky rice. Yummy. Tangy, hot, full of umami, it was throughly enjoyable.
The next night I went to The Veg, a newly opened vegetarian restaurant with a conscientious ethos – organic, pesticide free, supporting local farmers.. It was pretty empty – there was just 2 other people there. The menu looked good, western and local dishes. I went for the tofu (eating too much of it and I know there will be more) with lemongrass. However they were out of bok choy, and replaced it with lettuce. Yummy.
They were really generous with the tofu pieces, and the sauce with lemongrass with very moreish – it had chilli but I could have coped with more.. I think the target market are tourists so the chilli level reflected that. The accompanying coconut rice was excellent. They also have a really good tea and coffee menu, and breakfasts too. Sadly I ran out of time.
What did I do?
I walked around. I had been in Hanoi 5 years ago, and I had the same feeling now that I had back that. I love cities as much as I like being in the middle of nowhere. But Hanoi for me is just a bit too much. There seems to be that much more going on that I can process (and that is saying something since I love places Bombay and Hong Kong).
There is also this underlying feeling of ennui. I wasn’t comfortable here last time and it was the same this time. What I liked though was a motorbike tour around the old quarter and the French quarter. Sheesh. Too many people and too much madness, but at least it was fast and I was cool.
To escape the madness I had massages (makes sense in my world) both foot and body. Found a nice spa called Vi Spa, more expensive than the other places, $27 for 2 hours is still cheap. But boy oh boy, were the massages good!! These little Vietnamese girls are super strong!