We had read reports of the airport being hawkish and local taxi drivers relentlessly soliciting foreigners for rides. Last night there were a few solicitors, but the “hawkishness” usually went something like this: “Do you need a ride?” “No, were ok, thank you.” “Where are you going?” “We don’t need a ride, thank you.” After that, we were free. Hardly hawkish if you ask me. Getting our ticket and going through security took about 6 minutes, after which we waited for the flight.
We had also heard reports of Jetstar being less than organized. We had no such experience. There were others, however, that seemed to be getting riled up for no particular reason. As we sat on the plane, the same British lady who kept forcing people to move to the back of the line made a scene about not getting the window seat on the plane. Frusterating to watch. I’m sorry, but if you are going to show up in another country you should play by their rules. Nobody has the right to come here and tell people how to do things.
The flight went smoothly, and we touched down in Hanoi where we were met by a driver with Bree’s name on a sign. After a 50 minute drive into the city, we were checked into the Camel City Hotel.
We spent the rest of the day wandering the chaotic streets of Hanoi. The guide books often make the mistake of selling the city as “quaint” and “romantic”. In reality, it’s the chaos that makes the city charming. The traffic pulses in and out with no regulation. If you want to cross the street – you cross the street – there is no need to find a crosswalk or even wait for traffic to stop. Somehow with the lack of organization and rules just works. Aside from the traffic, people wander the streets carrying large loads in large baskets on bamboo poles. In the corners of the markets ladies are chopping fish with their machetes, while others wander the streets holding baskets of sweet fried breads.
The chaos was overwhelming and it was hard to know where to point the camera when there were dozens of fascinating things taking place on every block. We walked around for hours, observing the social tapestry of Hanoi and simply being glad we’d come.
We ate our dinner sitting on tiny plastic chairs on the street. We ate a dish of wilted greens, beef, and noodle dish which was absolutely amazing. By the time we got back to our hotel, we couldn’t keep our eyes open, and after a pathetic attempt at looking at pictures and blogging, we had to call it a night.