World Travels by Casey

HaNoi, Vietnam!

I'll start by giving you the visa process because that's a tricky process and everyone going to 'Nam has questions about this. 

Because I flew in from Chiang Mai (stopping in Bangkok for a layover) I got a visa on arrival. For this you apply online. It seems there are a few websites out there for this. I used myvietnamvisa.com and applied online letting them know (about) when I was going to be arriving into the country. If you don't have your ticket bought which was my case, then you just tell them when you suspect to arrive, the earliest date. I paid $20 USD online for the processing and then I had to wait 2 to 5 business days for an approval letter to be emailed to me. Once that letter arrived I had to print it and keep it with me in order to board the plane to Vietnam. When I arrived at the Vietnam airport I completed the process by first going to the visa counter and turning in 1 passport sized photo that I had brought with me from the states. They took my passport and my photo while I sat in the waiting area tell my name was called and my passport photo appeared on a big screen above the counter. Pay attention to the screen not necessarily the names they call because my name started with Mr. when they called it out and I didn't recognize the rest of what they said but I saw my photo. I then had a visa in my passport and paid them $25USD 

Just a lovely photo of Vietnam life to break up all this reading you're doing! 

Now for the regular routine of entering one country from another... Passport and immigration check. Then collect your baggage if there is any and off you go! 

I paid my hostel $15 extra to pick me up from the airport so that I didn't have to deal with taxi's or the bus. My driver spoke maybe 2 words in English and wasn't so willing to learn anything new so we drove for 40 minutes in silence. Once we got out of the rural area near the airport the traffic became insane! Scooter  insane! Flashbacks of Indonesia were quickly flooding my memory! I even saw an accident with probably 70 people gathered around a laid down scooter, a body on the ground shaking, blood and the tower of boxes it had been transporting, scattered all over the road. Oh yeah and one cop on foot trying to control the scene and the traffic jam it had caused! 

Coffee break over a game of Chinese chess.

Just your everyday Vietnam shoe salesmen. He had everything from Doc Martins to Clarks. They were so close to being the real deal! 

Rush hour traffic is very noticeable here even though the streets are always crazy. When rush hour hits the green uniformed police come out into the roads and start directing traffic on top of the stop lights already in place. It's a bit harder to cross the streets then usual and then you hit the sidewalk and everything is fine until you look ahead of you and a scooter or FIVE have decided to hop the curb and approach you head on instead of using the street! 

The French influence on Vietnam. 

I visited the war museum a very interesting take, seeing the history from the Vietnamese perspective. 

The Vietnam prison was known as the Hanoi Hilton.

A life size replica of one of the holding cells.

The American pilots held a Christmas Vermont in the prison.

This is burnt up B52 bomber we walked upon on one of our long daily strolls. Everything was in Vietnamese but it was clearly an American war plane on display.

I ventured through markets and stumbled across lots of local street food. There were a few full day walks into not so tourist areas with my travel parents. 

The weekend night market.

Turtles and toads at an everyday locals market... They aren't being sold for pets but sadly, for consumption. 

As well as a food tour I set up with the front desk girl of the hotel janes and Dee were staying at. Quinn, really liked me and I liked her, she spoke good English so I asked her if she'd be willing to go on a food tour with me. Candice joined us and it was in this outing where we both tried the famous Vietnam egg coffee.

The first dish of our food tour and it was bought from just a little street side stand.

The street side stand.

Fruit in condensed milk. Weird! 

Headed into a hidden gem for an egg coffee.

Candice, Quinn and myself 

met A LOT of Americans in Hanoi, between 2 hostels in the short time span of one night and just 3 hours! 
From SanFransico, Connecticut, Texas, Colorado, Florida, and 2 other states that I didn't catch. Americans are hard to find out in this world. Apparently they are all in Vietnam! 

My favorite find was the only person in my dorm room when I returned back to my hostel. Candice, a very adventurous girl from Washington  state. She was in bed with the lights out when I walked in but I could tell she was awake. She said I could turn on the lights so I could see and then we ended up sharing story's for the next 3 hours! Her wanderlust was very inspiring! She has adventure stories that make me look like not so much of a traveler! Sounds crazy but it's true! We became good friends right off and a few people who met us together assumed we were sisters. 

I also met an African guy named Emmanual and four amazing girls from Shanghai, China! All five of these beautiful people were staying at the friendly backpackers that I was at. 

Emmanual (Africa), Candice (Washington USA), and myself outside of the cathedral in Hanoi. 

The cathedral 

I snagged this photo that I took from a FB post James out up. It was a lunch date, just the 3 of us and we happened to sit down next to these 2 U.S. Marines and became involved in a great conversation with them.  

They are part of an archeological team that is searching for the remains of fallen US military soldiers, 50 years later! It was really neat to hear their take on everything and just the country of Vietnam. 

A moment I'll never forget in Hanoi is the food challenge at the Vietnam backpackers I was involved in. I signed up for it thinking I was going to be getting some really good spring rolls and pho. Nope! Not even close and by the time I figured it out it was really to late to back out without causing a scene. I hate to even admit one of the items I tried but I can't lie! So...

 The elegant table of traditional Vietnamese food.

Beluit - a hard boiled duck egg complete with a duck fetus inside. It's a delicacy in the Philippines and apparently here in Vietnam as well.

I have a HUGE disclaimer here... I swear to you I heard them say duck. I tried the smallest peice I could find and after the challenge was complete someone said "dog" to me and I went into complete denile of what I had just ate! I asked everyone in charge just to hoping to hear "duck" again. It was true, it had been dog. I was mortified!

Silk warm 

How did I react? 

That's was just the reaction to the hard boiled egg - beluit 

This hostel became my go to place most evenings when I wasn't ready for bed and I either wanted to socialize or write in my blog. They gave out lots of free stuff such as appetizers, free shots (Vietnamese rice wine), and even a free beer to me one night when I was sitting at the bar typing for a few hours. I didn't want the beer but they insisted so when the bartender wasn't looking I gave it to the table behind me. 

James, Dee and I went to a movie on one of the days that we needed a rest from walking. We saw In The Heart Of The Sea, the true story based on how the book Moby Dick was created. It was a great movie and even more great was the experience of a movie in an Asian country. 

While at the counter purchasing your ticket, you pick your seats on a computer screen. 

The back row of every theater had "sweet box" couches for couples. I got James and Dee to pose for me. This is t where they actually sat. 

There was a workout area on one side of the lake that I took James and Dee to see one evening. It's full of Vietnamese tough guys so James and I thought it'd be funny to playfully show them up. 

Times like this make me wish I could at least understand Vietnamese. I could however tell that the guys were super impressed that I could lift the same as them if not more!! There I am, bench pressing. 

James showing off his different variations of pull ups and core workouts.

Local key making station on a street corner. 

We saw this lady and couldn't figure out what she was making. My guess was fish and chips especially since she was near the water. 

It was actually fried banana that they called banana pancakes and the Chios were sweet potatoes. 

The streets in Hanoi seem to be organized by product. This was Chistmas street. There was also stainless steel kitchen street, shoe street, souvenir street, motorbike sakes and repair street and so on. 

Vietnam Telecom at its finest. 

And in some places it's so low you have to duck your head. 

This amusement & water park has a 300 person capacity and in the summer it's so hot that the locals will jump the walls to get in once it's reached capacity. 

A hair cut station in the street! They are all on the street, random stations set up anywhere you can imagine. I suppose that cuts out any rent for a station in a building. 

Once we had explored enough of Hanoi we headed to Sapa for 2 days of trekking. It wasn't just my travel parents and I, we collected 5 more amazing backpackers to join us! The 4 Chinese girls and Candice my newly adopted lol sister. 

Nate KComment