Hanoi, Vietnam


So today I’ve been walking around Hanoi admiring all the views and trying really hard not to get run over by a moped. So far I’m doing well, despite the fact that some of the roads and side streets look like this- 

Had my first Pho (noodle soup), which was delicious, eating at a rooftop place overlooking  Hoan Kiem lake. The sun has come out in force this afternoon despite this being the cooler end of the country right now, so here’s a late afternoon blue-sky shot to maybe make those of you stuck at work today jealous.
Photo credit to Mr GoogleMaps – Arron Barrett
One thing I’m enjoying so far is that the streets are very literally named. Shoe street is where all the shoe shops are, lemon tea street is full of shops selling mostly lemon tea. It gets quite specific! From candy street to fruit shake street, Hanoi keeps it simple. I’m still a bit bleary from the journey, so simple is good! 
I’ve tried Kopi Luwac coffee for the first time – that stuff that you get by taking beans that a civet cat has digested, washing them off and grinding them up- and it was actually pretty decent. Admittedly that might be due to all the condensed milk that had been chucked in, but we’ll pretend it’s just because coffee pooed out of an animal is the most delicious thing you could ever drink.
Who found out that poo coffee tastes better? How? Why?!?!
Coffee is definitely needed if you’ve been down beer street and spent 85,000 dong on four cocktails, three shots and a shisha (less than £3, for those of you thinking in GBP) but perhaps a bean that hasn’t interfered with an animal in some way would also be a solid choice… 
There’s a lot of cool French architecture around Hanoi, on account of all that French occupation business, and a lingering ability to get pretty decent baguettes as well as Pho and stir-fries. There’s also the rather impressive St Joseph’s Cathedral / Nha tho Lon, a rare sort of a sight in a majority buddhist country. I couldn’t get inside today because you’re only allowed in during mass, but I did get a photo for you all! Ooooh, aaaaaah… 

Lovely job.
Anyway just a quickie from today, currently resting at Hanoi Party Backpacker Hostel before I meet the rest of the hostel crew for free beers downstairs and dinner later. Seriously impressed with the clean, hot showers at this place! And the fact that despite the name, you can actually get a decent night’s sleep here! Even if the beds are a bit…. Solid… For £4 a night you get free beers for a couple of hours every evening, free (good) wifi, clean rooms and a location just under 10 minutes of moped-dodging from beer street, the cathedral and the lake. Less time if you’re more confident in your road crossings than I am!
Tomorrow I’m off to Ha Long Bay so it’ll be boat and beach updates for Vietnamese New Year!

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