Welcome to Hanoi

First impressions:

The Vietnam Airlines plane from Bangkok to Hanoi was much more modern than I had anticipated somehow. An Airbus 321 (German technology :)). It was nearly fully booked but the check-in staff had decided to award me a whole row of seats to myself. To which of my respectable features this was due I do not know.

When approaching Hanoi nothing could be seen from the air. A dense haze everywhere.

When I got off the plane it was not only humidity that hit me but also those fumes of pollution that keep you from inhaling deeply, like you had them let’s say on King’s Road in London in the eighties. Not a good sign.

After entering the terminal I was looking for the special “agent” that I had booked and paid for in advance to get me through immigration and my visa sorted without having to queue. No sign of the man! Blimey! Fortunately, yours truly is quite experienced with all kinds of formalities and bribing at all kinds of boarders and bureaucratic entities around the globe and I managed to sort myself in nearly zero time. I just had wanted a no-hassle, easy start. Tomorrow I will have to go and find the people to get my 20$ back.

The good thing was that at least my driver was waiting after customs. On the way to the car I managed to pull some “Dongs” out of an ATM and buy a Vietnamese SIM card. The rural landscape between the airport and Hanoi was quite scenic. A little jungle-like with all the wetland and weird huge plants. Unfortunately too much haze for taking pictures. And scooters everywhere! Most of the drivers wearing face-masks.

My own young driver was constantly talking on two phones while texting on a third one between honking the horn at the myriads of motor-bikers and swerving from lane to lane…it was a great lesson for my future driving here :)))

He even knew the way to the old part of town and he called my hotel (in an inaccessible side street) so the porter came to the main street to meet us and pick up my luggage. The sad (but to be expected) part was that my driver did not have the 4$ change he owed me. Good for him as I did not have the nerve for making a fuzz and sending him to get the change, bad for me.

I had originally booked a different hotel. Unfortunately, I had checked the Tripadvisor website afterwards and found another place with a much higher rating at the same price. So, I had changed reservations – and paid for my new hotel in full for a whole week. Now, the staff in my hotel “Hotel Charming, Hanoi” is really very charming. Can’t complain at all. But my room is a tiny little whole – with only a fake window. No daylight!
As everything is paid for a week I will have to endure it. At least the internet is working…

My suite…

…my office…

This is my little side street, very atmospheric.

To the left is the entrance to my hotel…

Loads of small shops – and people actually living in them…

…this shop is right next to my hotel…they are not only selling produce but also ready cooked stuff and spice mixtures…

My first reconnaissance tour brought me to the Hoan Kiem lake, the heart of the old town. As it was already close to 6 pm it had become dark already.

 

Very pleasant to walk along the lake, watch people, sit at the shore and meditate…

People were exercising (like in a gym) or practising Tai Chi or aerobics or were just sitting, watching, talking, meditating – a great place to have in your capital…

I found a pub/restaurant at the lakeside and had my first Vietnamese beer, a “Truc Bach”, 3 Leva for a small bottle. Too much malt, not my thing, but one has to try…Well, I made it back to the hotel at 7.30 pm, to shower and change my sweat trenched shirt…and then went to discover Hanoi at night and for my first “Pho”, THE Vietnamese noodle soup. Alas, I forgot to take my camera with me. Maybe fortunately, because this allowed me to focus on the people. And they are very open and communicative. I made some contacts already and will be picked up tomorrow morning by a teacher with a scooter who will show me Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and the ethnological museum next to it.

The first day here ended well, I saw loads of mainland China tourists and I am now sitting “in my office” drinking Havana Club (bought at the Bangkok duty free) with coke and ice that the night guard fetched from a more luxurious neighbouring hotel. I sense that there will be nice things to come to me here in Vietnam :)))

 

 

 

 

 

 

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