15: Hanoi Take 2, Vietnam

Saturday 27th July 2019

Day 88 in Southeast Asia

After the excitement of Hagiang it was strange waking up this morning with nothing to do. I of course woke up early again. Maybe one day soon I’ll actually sleep for 8 hours and feel well rested!! I went for a buffet breakfast at the hostels rooftop bar. Oh how I’ve missed Vietnam and it’s free hostel breakfasts!! I’m staying at Babylon Garden Hostel for £4 a night.

Today I decided to dedicate to just wandering around Hanoi. Revisiting some of my favourite spots from last time and going to see some things I missed. I started off by taking a very sweaty 40 minute walk to the Tran Quoc Pagoda. This is the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. It’s on a small island on Hanoi’s ‘West Lake’.

The walk took longer as crossing the road here is an extreme sport. As much as Hanoi is so crazy and overcrowded I adore how well the chaos works. I’m loving it so much more second time round now that I know what to expected and it isn’t such an overwhelming culture shock.

The pagoda wasn’t open when I got there but I didn’t have my shoulders covered so probably wouldn’t have been able to go in anyway! It was nice to just see it and of course have a photo with it! It looked really beautiful next to the lake.

I then took the 40 minute walk back to the old town and headed to the Note Coffee. This was my favourite coffee stop when I was last in Hanoi. You can write your own message on a post-it note and then stick it to the wall. All five floors are covered in millions of notes, I think it is SO beautiful. 

Two things you must try in Hanoi – egg coffee and coconut coffee. I’d tried egg coffee on my last visit so opted for coconut coffee this time. It didn’t disappoint at all, absolutely delicious!!

After feeling guilty for not starting my day until 10:30 / 11, I found it was only 1:30 and I didn’t know what to do with the rest of my day. I wandered around a few shops, gradually heading towards train street. On my last visit to Hanoi I only saw the train at night so thought it would be nice in the day!

Train Street only confirmed it’s top spot in my list of favourite places in Hanoi / the world. I arrived just 10 minutes before a train passed through and it looked even better in the day! It’s hilarious that you’re pretty much safer half a metre away from a train than you are crossing the road here.

Then I sat down and enjoyed an orange juice and Bahn Xeo for lunch. Bahn Xeo is definitely my favourite of all Vietnamese food. It is a crispy pancake served with stir fried veg, then wrapped in rice paper. All of this cost me a grand total of £2.

I embarked on the 40 minute walk back to the hostel at about 3:30 and arrived very much in need of a shower and aircon. Southeast Asia is humid regardless, but the cities are always sweatier! I decide to just chill for a few hours, write in my journal and try and figure out accommodation and a travel plan for Indonesia – I fly there on Monday! The view from my dorm room window showed a lovely sunset over the city. 

Dinner was of course an obligatory Bahn Mi. I headed to Banh Mi 25 just 300m from my hostel and grabbed the most amazing egg, cheese and avocado Banh Mi. It set me back 35,000 VND (a whole £1.15!!!!). I think I may have to go back tomorrow night for one because it was absolutely insane! The night market was just down the road from Banh Mi 25 and my hostel, so I wandered around there for a bit. It was just an abundance of every single fake designer shoe and bag you can imagine! After about half an hour I was unbearably sweaty so headed back to the hostel for air con and a fan.

I’ve decided to book onto a cooking class for tomorrow. I didn’t really have any plans for the day and have been keen to do some Asian cooking for a few weeks. I’m actually glad I won’t be at a loose end tomorrow. Otherwise my brain gets bored and I overthink. According to my phone I walked over 2117,700 steps today and I’ve certainly sweat bucket loads! Hopefully this means I might actually get a decent nights sleep.

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