Hotel: Sofitel Hanoi
I arrived in Hanoi around midnight so there was no time for sight seeing. After a quick steaming shower, I was off to bed for the next day. Unsurprisingly, it was got hot and humid early but I had a list of sites to see: Literature Temple, One-Pillar pagoda, the Quán Thánh Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, and the 36 Old streets. The picture above is at 6 am just when the city was waking up with early morning traffic. The view is from the top floor of my suite where I was generously upgraded by the front desk. 🙂 Helps to be a solo female Vietnamese-American traveler in this case!
The above photos is the Hanoi morning traffic slowly beginning at dawn. I opened the balcony door and was intoxicated by the sights and smells of the city. I was in the freaking motherland!! Cars and buses varooming, cars honking, bells jangling, mopeds revving. People randomly crossing the street with balls of steel. I threw some clothes on and trotted downstairs to the Asian/Western buffet. The buffet served pho for breakfast (pho is common for breakfast in Vietnam) and the bowls are 1/3 the size in America. Nonetheless, it gave me a chance to try out the other options such as some dim sum, fruit (especially the Asian ones!), and good ole’ bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, etc. I am not a big breakfast eater so it was great just to eat a little before heading out.
One Pillar Pagoda is a temple for people who are having trouble conceiving a child. If you go here and conceive successfully, you must return and say thanks! 🙂 When they say dress conservatively in Vietnam, do so! One woman was walking up these temple steps in a tank top and was scolded by a local woman watching nearby for not covering up at least her shoulders!
This is Hoan Kiem Lake – Lake of the Restored or Returned Sword and I am standing over the red Huc bridge. It doesn’t look crowded here but the lake already had some tourists milling about trying to beat the smoldering afternoon heat. After walking to a nearby temple taking pictures next to a stone tiger (because I’m a tiger – 1986), I got on a tuk tuk and took a ride around the 36 old streets. As we whizzed around corners and zipped past people carrying fruits and vegetables for sale, most of the shops were selling cheap souvenirs from China ranging from the fake chanels and raybans to the nike bags made in Vietnam.