Last year, my sister and I went to Cambodia and Vietnam. It was a fantastic trip and all I could think about was bringing Mark back to Vietnam to enjoy the food! Somehow, the stars aligned and we were able to make the trip happen for our 3rd anniversary. With only six weeks left on Okinawa, we squeezed in one last trip off the rock and I'm so happy that we did!
Our trip to Hanoi was pretty crazy. For starters, our flight was delayed for four hours leaving Okinawa because of weather in Hong Kong. Once we finally made it to Hong Kong, we were met at the gate by a Hong Kong Airlines representative who escorted us through the airport to ensure that we made it onto our connecting flight. We scurried through security and made as they were boarding!
After the escapades in Hong Kong, we finally made it to Hanoi only to find out that my bag didn't make it on the connecting flight. I was annoyed and bummed, but not surprised. It was such a tight schedule to make our connecting flight and HKA did the very best they could. We wrote up a report and the very nice lady assured me that they'd deliver my bag the next afternoon.
Thankfully, our hotel had waited out the storm and still had someone to pick us up. We walked out of the terminal to find a guy holding our name card. Whew, that was the easiest part of our day!
**Tip: Schedule airport transportation at a fixed rate through your hotel & get a confirmation email and/or number to go along with it. It's a time saver, for sure!**
Since we got in pretty late, we decided to start fresh in the morning. We got up on Friday morning and enjoyed the complimentary breakfast at our hotel, Tirant Hotel. It was a good combination of Vietnamese food and "western" breakfast. Not only did they include breakfast in the hotel fee, but they had a pool and were right in the old quarter! I don't think we could have chosen a better hotel for what we paid ($56/night).
We decided to walk along Hoan Kiem Lake after breakfast, which was a very short walk from our hotel, to check out Turtle Tower. It wasn't too hot yet so the walk was enjoyable. The worst part was that I was wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt because it's all I had (my bag was still missing).
The kids huddled up in front of the cold A/C
We made our way through the French Quarter to see the Opera House and went to the Vietnam National Museum of History. It was interesting to see the school kids at the museum. They were all very loud and rowdy - the exact opposite of the kids that you see at the museums in the states. They were definitely more concerned with what A/C unit was the coldest and who won rock/paper/scissors (the winner got front row seat to the cold air).
After the museum, we found a cafe with air conditioning where Mark had his first Vietnamese coffee! It was love at first sight, for sure. Afterwards, we decided that it was just too hot and my bags should be making their way to the hotel soon. We headed back where we enjoyed napping, the pool, and some cold beer!
That night we found what would become our nightly "spot," Beer Corner. It wasn't officially named Beer Corner, but we named it that because there are beer shops located on every corner of the busy intersection.... and it was only $0.25 - $1.00 per beer. 25 cents, people!!!
Mark also bought some street snacks: Bo Bia Ngot and some donuts (regular and Banh Tieu). It was shaping up to be a really good night!
While enjoying our cheap beer, Bia Hoi, we met an Australian that lives in Hanoi who recommended we try a restaurant just around the corner. I had chicken with lemongrass and chili and Mark had frog. We chatted with some people (one from Japan, one from S. Korea) and then it started raining. Boooo!
We found refuge at a restaurant just up the street from our hotel where we finished off the night with more beer and some spring rolls! This trip was great already...