When we arrived in Hanoi we were greeted by the sound of honking horns and speeding motorbikes. I’ve heard that there are lots of motorbikes in South East Asia but I never knew there would be this many. People ride five per scooter and most the time with no helmets. Carrying their children on their laps and zipping around through traffic, no stop signs or lights, just an almost choreographed routine that you would see on Broadway. It was quite overwhelming, neither of us had seen anything like this before. There are so many people working on every street sidewalk that along with the motorbikes the pedestrians are forced to take to the streets for a walking path and fend for themselves. The amount of honking horns that are used seems more like a second form of communication rather than the angry “I’ll kill you if you merge” that Americans always resort to. It’s just a friendly beep to say “I’m hauling ass on this scooter and I’d rather not accidentally kill you.”
Before we departed I read about a certain dish “cha ca” that is supposedly Hanoi’s specialty. It’s a fried fish with green onions and dill. We went to a little restaurant called Cha Ca Thang Long – The only dish they serve is the famous Cha Ca fried fish. As we sat down beers and a sizzling hot plate were presented on our table. The chef cooked right at our table and then showed us how to make our dish, first the noodles, then the hot fish and greens are placed on top, chilli paste and peanuts atop that and finally like all dishes in South East Asia, a nice bit of fish Sauce. It was absolutely amazing, the vegetables were fresh, the beer was ice cold and the fish taste like it was caught that morning. Sounds expensive right – No, all this for a whopping $7.50 total. I think I died and went to heaven.
Hanoi is a very busy and exciting city but it does have its little charms once you get used to the noise and the crazy streets. Cha Ca is a must as well as the Vietnamese water puppet show. Hoan Kiem Lake is a good area for tourists and travelers The next morning we headed out to Hai Phong to catch a boat to Cat Ba Island, the biggest island in the world heritage site of Ha Long bay.
With Love, Natalie & Dylan.