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  • Day1

    Hanoi

    June 29 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 36 °C

    Arrived in Hanoi around 9am after an overnight flight from Sydney via Kuala Lumpur. The first leg was mildly exciting when a couple of guys nearly had a punchup mid-flight (one guy's wife wouldn't switch her phone off after being repeatedly warned by the crew and the other guy whacked her seat). Sleep was difficult as well since despite being in the "quiet zone" a guy a few rows snored like a tractor the entire flight!

    A couple of hours in KL and then our flight to Hanoi was uneventful - I even managed to sleep most of the way. We ended up sitting next to a couple from Penrith who'd been on the earlier flight - they also had a dachshund!

    Sort ourselves out with some cash and local SIM cards, then caught a minivan into the city which took about an hour. Only 10am and it was already excruciatingly hot! Our room wasn't ready so we dropped our bags and headed back out.

    First stop was the first World Heritage Site of the trip, the imperial Thang Long Citadel in central Hanoi. It's a fairly odd site as although the original citadel dates from the 11th century, none of that is left - most of the buildings are from the French colonial period. And despite being in central Hanoi, just near the Presidential Palace and Uncle Ho's Mausoleum, nobody visits!

    We spent a couple of hours wandering around, filming and taking photos. It was more interesting than either of us expected, just appreciating how the site had changed many times over the years but always retained its importance if not its form. During the war it was the North's high command bunker, and various independence celebrations had taken place here in the 1950s too.

    Left the citadel and walked back to the hotel via Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, though it's closed for maintenance until August. Shame, I'd kinda been hoping to see his mummified remains!

    Grabbed some banh mi for lunch and spent a bit of time in the room before braving the heat again, heading first to the Temple of Literature, one of Hanoi's most famous attractions. Lovely spot here, a temple dedicated to worshipping Confucius with pavilions scattered among gardens and ponds.

    From here we got a taxi over to Hanoi's famous lake where the roads were all blocked thanks to a fun-run that had happened in the morning. Shandos said it was the busiest part of Hanoi when she was last here, so it was interesting to see it deserted of cars and bikes!

    Wandered around for a bit, I had an egg coffee and Shandos a sugar cane juice while we tried to figure out plans for tomorrow. We'd hoped to head for a tentative World Heritage Site to the north-east of Hanoi (a religious pagoda), but apparently the tours only really run there during religious festivals! So we were faced with either an expensive driver for the day, or slow local buses. In the end we opted for neither, and we'll just hang around Hanoi tomorrow. We're not hugely worried about missing Tentative sites.

    Back to the hotel to cool down again, then headed out for dinner at a nearby Pho place that had been recommended as one of the best in Hanoi. Basically just street food, but it was packed and turning over bowls extremely quickly! Happy to report the food was delicious. Headed home again; not a late night but definitely a well-deserved sleep.
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