Friday, 13 January 2012


Hanoi; capital of Vietnam and home to 6,000,000. My guess is that is 6,000,000 motorbikes.
On every road, on every pavement; motorbikes. Rush hour seemed to start before we woke up and finished at some point after we went to bed.

The humble Honda makes the city tick.
And stop!

Used to transport everything from people to shopping to supplies to pigs!
Yes pigs - in a rattan basket (still alive) on the back of a scooter.

 Hanoi's has a 2 wheeled version of pretty much everything; garden centre, florist, cleaner, arborist, refrigeration and white van!

Hanoi is so different to Bangkok.

Difference number 1; No Starbucks
(but they do sell  weasel gold roast!)

Difference number 2; No Toni & Guy
Difference number 3; Fred Elliott
works outside

Difference number 4; Ping pong replaced
by water puppetry

Tran Quac

Hanoi has been inhabited for thousands of years. One of the oldest structures in the city is the Tran Quoc pagoda, the original dates back to the 6th century.

The one pillar pagoda was originally built in 1049 by Ly Thai Tong, but was destroyed by the French in 1954 when they left Vietnam. A replica now stands in its place. 

Don't look down

The citadel was constructed by the Ly dynasty in 1010. It was visited by David and Amy in 2012. 
Not much more to say really.  
We climbed to the top of the Cot Co Flag Tower for a better view. 

A better view

St Josephs Cathedral

Hanoi was the capital of French Indochina for 50 years at the start of the 20th century, and french architecture is still very evident throughout the city.

Tres francais dans le Vietnam

Hanoi's Brooklyn Bridge

Gustav Eiffel even came to Hanoi to build a pedestrain bridge over the Red River. Like most other areas of the cty, it is now also used by mopeds!

Hanoi is synonymous with two things; the Vietnam war and Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh devoted his life to the liberation of the Vietnamese people and is revered throughout the country.  His image is on every banknote, in every public building and also in many homes, shops and restaurants.

You looking at me?
Damn - forgot my gun again!

His embalmed body is on show for a few hours each weekday in a strictly guarded mausoleum, and people queue up each day to view him. 

The war museum has a number of US military planes, helicopters and tanks seized by the Viet Cong during the 1960s and 1970s. The wreckage of a B52 'bom-ber' shot down during operation Linebacker now stands as a permanent memorial.

The Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo prison) was built by the French in the late 19th century to house political prisoners, but was then used by the North Vietnamese as a home for POWs during the Vietnam war.  Senator John McCain spent five and a half years here after his plane was shot down over Hanoi

No view and room service is a little slow. No Honours points either

It really woudn't be a David and Amy blog without some reference to food, and we obviously did eat! However we did make a slight mistake with our pronunciation. 

Mmm, smells like pho
The national dish of Vietnam, 'Pho' (eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner) is not pronounced 'poo' but 'fuh' like the 'fu' in fun.

Pho is a soup made with rice noodles, chicken or beef, chilli, lime, coriander, thai basil and spring onions, and costs about 35,000 dong (approx £1) in a sit down restaurant or 20,000 dong (approx 60p) on the street. 

Exhaust flavour duck anyone?
Street food looked great, but the lack of running water, cleaning products, or even a kitchen put us off a little. I'm sure some of the restaurants we did go into just had a street kitchen out the back, but at least we couldn't see it!

Upmarket street dining (it's got a roof)

Food Standards Agency?

Masterchef Vietnam

Not wanting to eat literally on the street meant that our budget was stretched, and we had to make a choice; cutbacks or get a job.  Just as well Amy agreed to sell her juicy pineapples to fund dinner and desert in the place hardest to get a table in - Fanny.

Another Hanoi landmark is the Hoan Kiem Lake, meaning Lake of the Returned Sword.  In the middle is a small pagoda on an island, which is dedicated to the golden turtle which is rumoured to live in the lake and protect the sword used by Ly Thai Tong to defeat the Mongols.  

Turtle Temple


A number of cafes line the banks and at night do not look tacky at all. Nope. 

Hanoi also has a very poor community, living close to the river, surviving by collecting scrap metal, plastic or paper to sell for recycling, selling fruit, vegetables or home cooked doughnuts in the city centre or proving shoe shine services to tourists or business men. The smell was horrendous, and the conditions very poor.  We decided not to eat any doughnuts. 
It was a tough decision!

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