I have been living in South Africa for the past six years now. Ever since the big move, all I ever see is Southern Africa and Germany – every year, all year. I know it’s a luxury problem but I was so over my luxury problem the past twelve months that I decided to stop doing this to myself. I finally reached a point in my life where I was able to afford to spend a few of my precious leave days on a different country… Far far away from my routine. in fact, as far as it could be. I needed a country where no one understands me, which has different food, a different way of living – generally everything different to what I am used to. I decided on Asia. And: because my naive me never did any research – I decided on Vietnam – BECAUSE IT’S NOT THAT TOURISTY 🙂 I wanted to be culture shocked on the highest level possible.
Decision made, next step was booking flights and I also bought a travel book which I never opened.
Its fairly easy to fly from Cape Town. I chose my favorite airline especially also because I am hoping to get a ton of miles which I can Re-invest in more flights to Germany (look at me being smart) and arrived about 18 hours later in Hanoi.
I managed to sort out my visa in 10min, picked up luggage, drew my first own local currency and even managed to find my driver. The last time I traveled on my own to something really foreign was in 2007 so I was extremely proud of myself.
The heat slapped me in my face the moment I left the airport. Living in this country feels like you are in a steam room 24 hours, 7 days a week. Unless you find some place with an aircon.
My driver drove me to my hostel located right in the Kreuzberg of Hanoi. Hipsters, locals, tourists and thousands and thousands of motor bikes cruised around this busy center and after check in and a shower, my next task was, to cross the street alive as well as organising an adapter and a local sim card. Crossing the streets in Hanoi feels like playing Russian roulette. You need to keep on walking and do never – under any circumstances – change the pace, you are starting to cross the street. Hanoi’s Street are an absolute Organised chaos and if you scared you will go down. I always thought that capetonians are bad drivers but honestly, they drive extremely well compared to Vietnam drivers.
I made it though. Accomplished all the self given tasks on my arrival day without even a bit of failing.
I was ready to tackle the rest of my holiday.
The following day I started exploring the old Town. Each street has a theme. Roads full of fruits, spare parts for motor bikes, meat, pubs, fake clothing brands… even a fish street – everything was in orderly manner located in a different street respectively.
Things I would recommend in this city:
- Eat all the street food. All of it. It is so, so, so, so yummy. Do not go back to European food u til you leave this country, you have to enjoy this extraordinary cuisine in this beautiful country as much as you can.
- Go to the train street and have a home made lemon and ginger tea in the tiny green Cafe along the train tracks. The train passes by 2 to 3 times daily, make sure you don’t miss it.
- Organise a free guided tour and explore the old Town with a guide. Those guides are students and super eager to explain you more about their home. You will see this city with different eyes entirely
- Have an egg coffee. Oh my God, this stuff is just THE BEST. I didn’t Google what it was made off before I drank it and I recommend you don’t do that either. It will blow your mind afterwards, trust me.
- Have a coconut coffee. Second best. Generally, just have any drink which is freshly squeezed or created in any of the tiny cafes around town. The only thing I don’t have to drink twice is sugar cane lemonade.
- Have all the local beers. Don’t waste your taste buds on brands you know – not worth it.
- Don’t get attached to animal lifes in this city. That’s all I am gonna put here.
- Shop until you drop at the night markets and make sure you always negotiate prices. The choice of fake-whatever-you-can-imagine is just absolutely endless.
I really liked Hanoi. The busy roads and heat overwhelmed me in the beginning but all this yummy food will certainly calm your nerves again, trust me.