Here I go again. Yes, I’ve gone traveling again.
This time, I have chosen Vietnam, where it is a nation on the rise.
The capital city, Hanoi, was born under the name ‘Thang Long‘, which means “dragon ascending”, an image now befitting the country as a whole. (As you can see from the map below, in apple green colour)
The ascent began in 1986 when the government abandoned command economics and launched doi moi, a market-driven policy of fiscal reform, which rescued Vietnam from a decade of postwar privation and Vietnam emerged as one of the South East Asia’s Little Tiger economies.
Anyway, the economy in Vietnam is booming at 8 percent annually, one of the fast rates in worldwide.
Hanoi was one of the cities that I have visited in Vietnam. In Hanoi, the Old Quarters in Hoan Kiem District is known for shopping and this was certainly fitting into my itinerary in this trip.
Before the trip, I have prepared some Vietnam Dongs (VND) and USD $$$ as both are being used to purchase food and souvenirs. I just couldn’t wait to shop again!
I was pretty excited when I took a morning (630am) flight to Hanoi on the 25th January (Friday). The anxiety was killing me when the plane breached into the skies of Hanoi.
Thanks to Air Asia (now everyone especially ME can fly). With Air Asia speeding its way in the air, it only took 2 hours 55 minutes to reach Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport.
I seriously didn’t expect it to be that cold in Hanoi. According to Yahoo Weather Forecast, it was supposed to be ranging from 14 – 18°C. How would I know that it would drastically drop to 11°C when I landed in Hanoi.
I was like “DARN“! I only brought a thin jacket which I normally used in Genting Highlands. I didn’t prepare enough winter clothing to keep me warm here. What to do? I had to get a good one from the shopping centre.
This is Hoan Kiem Lake. It is a medallion of avocado green water (as described by National Geographic) in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle.
This 25-acre oasis is rimmed by a shady promenade which is flooded with city folks from dawn to dusk and the locals say you can’t know Hanoi unless you know Hoan Kiem Lake.
Isn’t this a nice view from the top? I took this shot from Golden Sun Hotel when I was having my breakfast at 7am (Hanoi’s time).
One-Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot) is supported by a single pillar of concrete, like a lotus flower blooming on a stem.
Ba Dinh Square is well-known for its declaration of Independence by Uncle Ho Chi Minh for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945. Today, Ba Dinh Square attracts tourists because of the nearby Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum and One-Pillar Pagoda.
This is the Presidential Palace (which is an Italianate Renaissance chateau) built in 1906 as the residence and headquarters of Indochina’s governor-general. Its golden ocher colour speaks of its French origins. Uncle Ho Chi Minh of course had once lived in this palace before.
Yup, this is Uncle Ho’s final resting place. They even have guards stationed at the door as the mausoleum is not opened on Mondays and Fridays.
Let’s move away from the city.
It took me about 20 minutes to walk from Ba Dinh Square to the Old Quarters.
Motorbike-dominated traffic speeds down in the Old Quarters of Hanoi, which used to be the colonial French district.
Even the motorists were wrapped up like dumplings of winter jackets!!
But I love the chilly weather. This weather allowed me to walk through the streets of Hanoi without a drop of perspiration!
The railroad is situated so close to the houses and shops in Hanoi. My goodness, I wonder how they sleep in the middle of the night when there is a train passing through.
Look at this busy street when the motorbike-dominated traffic is crossing the railroad.
Dong Xuan market, situated at the north side of Old Quarters, were filled with stalls and customers. The first row of stalls impressed me with many colours of dried fruits. And my favourite was the big raisins sold at 50,000 VND (approx. RM10) for half kilo.
Inside Dong Xuan market, you would see a row of stalls selling Bags, luggages, bagpacks, hand carry bags…. nothing else but BAGS!!!
I bought a ciplak “Kipling” hand-carry bag here to stuff in all my souvenirs bought from Vietnam. Even this ciplak bag cost me USD $ 15 (approx. RM45). I had no choice to get a bag, as my new jacket already took up the remaining space in my luggage.
I walked pass a stall selling all kinds of hats. And here I was, trying on the communist police hat. Do I look like one?
Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter in the world, after Brazil. Trung Nguyen Coffee is one of the best coffee you could find. A pack of 500gram of Trung Nguyen coffee costs me USD$ 12.00!! (Bugger!! So freaking expensive!!)
Hang Dao is one of the most tourist-visited streets in the Old Quarters during the daytime. There are plenty of shops selling apparels along this street. During winter like now, you could see tons and tons of jackets being sold to tourists and local people.
On Sunday nights, Hang Dao is famous for their weekly night markets. Just like our pasar malam in Malaysia.
One thing I do noticed that in Old Quarters, you would tend to see a row of shops selling the same thing. It would be convenient for the tourists to only walk one street without looking else where.
This street will attract people with sweet tooth. You can sweep all the sweets and cookies that you love from this street.
Tet Festival is a weeklong celebration of the lunar new year, and it dwarfs all other holidays in Vietnam. Tet follows the lunar calendar, therefore the festival begins normally in the late January or the beginning of February.
As you can see from the picture above, the Vietnamese are already preparing for the Tet celebration.
Flower street! Guys, you can buy flowers here for your girlfriends in this upcoming Valentine’s!!!
Check out the cobra in the bottle. Snake wine (rượu rắn in Vietnamese) is an alcoholic beverage that can be found in towns across Vietnam.
Geee!!! My body trembled with a disgusting feeling when I saw the cobra in the bottle. Argh!!!
Wait a minute!
Isn’t this supposed to be Sai Gon Flower Shop? Why is it selling helmets????
Hair of the Dog Bar?
I will grow lots of Dog’s Hair when I visit this bar, is it??
Up next will be an entry on Vietnamese Food…