Four Days in the Cultural City of Hanoi: Part 1

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tree lined street in the city of Hanoi
Gorgeous trees everywhere you look

Today I am off to fascinating city of Hanoi on a writing trip for four days. I’m really looking forward to spending time in This wonderful green city.

Early Morning at the Airport

I had an early flight which meant me getting up at 4.45 to Get to the airport. The last time I went to the airport on my motorbike the guys in the bike park had moved it about 100 yards upon my return. I spent about 45 minutes looking for it among to 10,000 others. Why they do this is anyone’s guess. So today I decided to do things differently. I rode to the train station, where there is a really secure small parking space. I then jumped in a taxi and finished the journey.

A very quiet Tan Son Nhat Airport
A very quiet Tan Son Nhat Airport

I arrived at the airport in ample time and was pleasantly surprise to see it less crammed than usual. I sat down with a coffee and a blueberry muffin and chilled out as I waited for my two hour flight to the nation’s capital city. Check in and security went faster than normal and I was soon seated in the departure lounge failing to snooze because of the constant stream of gate change announcements coming over the PA system. I don’t know what it is with Tan Son Nhat Airport but it seems that about 70% of flights experience gate changes.

Domestic departure lounge at Tan Son Nhat
Domestic departure lounge at Tan Son Nhat

First Impressions of the City of Hanoi

By business associate was there at the airport to transfer me to wonderful city of Hanoi. The completion of the new highway and the impressive Nhat Tan Bridge has cut the journey time into town from the airport, dramatically. It used to be quite a hassle taking up to 90 minutes. Now depending on traffic it can be achieved in about 30 minutes.

he new bridge over the Red River
he new bridge over the Red River

The first impressions one gets normally when arriving in the city of Hanoi is that it is a very green city, and today was no different. There are so many beautiful tree-lined streets and parks as we are driving in. We had hardly got into the city when we were pulled over by a traffic cop. He reckoned we were driving in the motorbike lane. The “coffee money” paid, we continued on to the Legend Cafe, one of the really famous cafe’s in the city of Hanoi. It’s right on Hoan Kiem Lake. We sat, drank coffee, talked business and had lunch. This was actually our second choice for a coffee, the first choice proved impossible to park and after about 45 minutes we gave up.

more trees in the city of Hanoi
Another tree-lined avenue
This would have been nice
This would have been nice
More trees and more traffic
More trees and more traffic
I don't know why, but I really liked this tree
I don’t know why, but I really liked this tree
Buses waiting at Hoan Kiem Lake, viewed from the Legend Cafe.
Buses waiting at Hoan Kiem Lake, viewed from the Legend Cafe.

Time to Eat

We both went with the spaghetti sea food which filled a corner in a very satisfying manner. I then checked into my hotel. In an amazing coincidence my client had booked me into the same hotel as I booked myself into 3 years ago whilst in the capital city of Hanoi on a holiday with friends. Even more spooky I got the same room!

This is all pedestrianised at the weekends, though it was quiet today
This is all pedestrianised at the weekends, though it was quiet today

 

Simple but tasty food
Simple but tasty food
Face masks in the city of Hanoi
Face masks
Hundreds of hotels in Hanoi but I managed to get the same one
Hundreds of hotels in Hanoi but I managed to get the same one

 

A very Vietnamese looking shop
A very Vietnamese looking shop

I crashed on the bed for an afternoon nap, then rose refreshed ready to hit town.  More in part 2.

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Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.