I wake up in the early hours of the morning as we pull in to a wet and miserable Hanoi for the last night here in Vietnam. And as a treat, I booked myself into a hotel, Green Street Hotel, in the old quarter of Hanoi, my favourite area for its hustle and bustle assuming it has not changed much in the few years since I was here. At the hotel my room was already ready for my super early arrival and the reception guy came up with a refreshing welcome lemon drink which went down perfectly. I tried to get a couple of hours kip before getting up, showered and heading out in the already rammed narrow roads of the old quarter in search of coffee. And Vietnam does a great coffee. The streets of the old quarter, even in the rain, are just how I remember with scooters fighting against the cars to get down narrow lanes, people passing in every direction and the hawkers trying to sell house wares to fresh fruit from the classic Vietnamese shoulder board carriers and bicycles.
I found a little café for some strong coffee and food and arranged to meet up with Max, who I had not seen since Koh Rong in Cambodia to do some touristy bits and pieces. We met up by Hanoi’s central location and landmark, Hoan Kiem Lake. Unsure of what to do with ourselves we went for a stroll around the manic streets of the old quarter before grabbing some lunch and beer. Next stop was Hanoi’s infamous ‘Hilton Hotel’, this is fact the prison used for decades but got its nickname during the war with America and used to imprison American soldiers. An interesting visit and depicts that the soldiers were treated with kindness, but how true is that?
Due to the weather and as I had done all the touristy things before, we decided to stop at a quaint little café bar for a few beers on the pavement café. A moment later a hear a scooter pull up behind me and a load of squealing, we turn around to see that the café’s evening meal had arrived…a pig strapped to the back of the scooter. The owner laughed at us and hand gestured to us that it was to eat (obviously), this pig was seriously going for it, it was deafening but hilarious watching the guys trying to untie it and carry it round the back of the café. Taking that as our cue to leave before the blood was split, we said goodbye until who knows when and parted ways. On my way back to the hotel, I ran into Stephen (who I went to Battambang with) and we went for a walk around the shops in the old quarter and caught up. We arranged to meet for dinner later, where we went to a little street restaurant I had been to some 2 years prior and the food was just as good. Yep, I could live on Vietnamese food I think. One of Stephen’s friends came to join us for a few beers after we had eaten for my final night in Vietnam. I said my final farewells and that’s South East Asia done, although I wish I was staying in Vietnam longer. But time to see the parents in Hong Kong.