Go: Hanoi Surprises

I have a confession to make...neither of us really wanted to go to Hanoi.  We wanted to go to Sapa and Halong Bay, so it was only logical that we would go.  But even after we'd read about it, I still wasn't excited about it.  So I was very surprised when in the two days we were there I fell in love with the place. We didn't do much sightseeing as such, but I spent a lot of time wandering.

Here are a few of the things that (pleasantly) surprised me about Hanoi:

Non La
I didn't expect to see so many people wearing non la (the iconic Vietnamese hats).  I had assumed that they were only worn in the countryside or for tourists (kind of like lederhosen in Germany) so I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people wearing them on the street.  

Hanoi is really well signposted (at least in the areas we visited), something I am not used to after spending so much time in Phnom Penh.  I spent a morning wandering the old quarter armed with my map and every street was clearly marked and named.  

The city seems to have grown around the trees and so most of the streets that I wandered were protected by a beautiful shady canopy.

Early morning activity
The city is a different place in the early morning.  We had arrived from Sapa at around 6 am so spent the early hours wandering the streets and people watching.  At that time of the morning you feel that you are watching the real Hanoi.  Eateries pop up in front of shopfronts whose doors are still closed.  People cycle around the streets that are yet to be filled with motorbikes selling food and flowers.  Children head off to school and women prepare their homes.  It really is a great time to be out and about.

Streetside breakfast

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