Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hanoi {part 1}

Our tour ended in Hanoi, and afterward we spent a few extra days there on our own. Of all the cities we visited, we spent the most time in Hanoi and it was one of our favorites, and again different from all the previous stops. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is a pretty big city, though it didn't really have a "big city" feel to it, which we liked.

We actually stayed in Hanoi for a night before we went to Ha Long Bay, and did a little sightseeing that day with our tour group. We walked by the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum for a photo, but it was closed that day so we didn't get to go in. Not that we missed out on much - we thought about going a few days later, but no disrespect, we just really had no desire to wait in a really long line to see a dead guy.

From there, we went to the Confucian Temple of Literature. We walked around for a little while - it was pretty but nothing memorable of note.

The picture below is also the scene displayed on their 100,000 dollar bill (equivalent to about $5 USD). I felt so rich over there! :)  Although their money is called Vietnamese "dong", which was always awkward...

Quick stop for some pho in a random alley...delicious!

We walked around the Hoan Kiem Lake, which is right in the city center and also called lover's lane. Such a nice evening stroll.

Within the city there are several districts, and within each district every street is specialized. For example in the shopping district there is shoe street, dress street, purse street, hat street, pajama street, party street...and on and on.  We all went shopping on pajama street for absurd pajamas (which we wore on the junk boat in Ha Long Bay the next night). A few of us who are the more extremely adventurous eaters went to Highway 4 for dinner where we ate a lot of weird food. To those of you who thought it was crazy/gross that we had rat and snake wine in the Mekong Delta...that will now seem like basic chicken. You've been warned.

There were six of us at dinner and we ordered 11 dishes to share for a total of 12 different animals in one meal. In the photo above, left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Scorpion. It was terrible. Really dry and crunchy. Like when you are grilling chicken and a tiny piece gets completely chargrilled - sort of like that. But worse.
  2. Gecko. Not great. There were a lot of bones still in it.
  3. Ants with beef. Actually pretty good, we dipped the beef in a small bowl of ants.
  4. Fried shrimp. A normal, delicious item.
  5. Crickets with pork. Also surprisingly good. It was served with crackers/chips so we ate it like a dip.
  6. Escargot. Usually we love it, but we didn't think they were cooked properly so did not enjoy this.
  7. Pigeon. We've had squab before so this was "normal" to us. The disturbing part was that they served it on the plate like you would serve a whole chicken, and for whatever reason it's head was just sitting in the middle. Totally not necessary.
  8. Grilled Frog. My favorite! It was a little spicy (though I am a spice wuss) and had a great flavor.
  9. Fried frog. Also very good. 
  10. Ostrich steak. Second favorite. 
  11. Chicken fried rice. Because what's a meal in Vietnam without fried rice??

The next morning we drove to Ha Long Bay where spent the next day and a half. We came back to Hanoi for one last night with the group, and our tour manager took us all to our final dinner together at Little Hanoi. We all went to a bar afterward and out of nowhere it closed and everyone had to leave. Apparently this happens often - there is no official closing time for bars, just whenever the police decide to shut everything down.

 That night was also Sophie's birthday so we had all the more reason to celebrate together.

Our tour manager was on his last tour of a six month stint, so by then he knew all the locals who escorted us to an underground rave party. It was just on the outside of the city, right along the water, and absolutely awesome - such a great way to end our time with all of our new friends!


The bahn mi lady outside made the absolute best that we had the entire trip. She put a lot of different things in it like sausage, steak, eggs and sauces along with the normal vegetables.


  1. That was definitely bizarre foods worthy meals ;)!!! I can't believe all the different things you've done on this trip! Very well-rounded :)

  2. You went to a rave! That's amazing. You were right, the smaller pictures of the food was a good idea. :)


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