Saturday, 26 September 2009

My Hanoi Experience

I call it an experience because this little city is really quite different from what I was expecting!!

You can blame it on lack of research haha cause I went with my sis ma.... so I just rely on her to do all the research!! kaka Luckily our hotel have internet =D Plus she have a blackberry and with google map, it wasn't that difficult to find the places we wanted to go!

Firstly, I didn't know that Hanoi has got 2 seasons!! Something like HK la... Summer and Winter.... and the best time to go Hanoi is end of the year like Oct - Feb cause it is freaking hot when I was there!! Seriously hot until sweaty and sticky kind one.....

Woke up at 3.30am to catch the 6am flight!! Stupid Air Asia only got one flight per day to Hanoi and at that ungodly hour!! We got the hotel to come pick us up at the airport and when we reached the hotel, they told us that they have upgraded us! =D We really couldn't figure out why!! So we were quite scared to accept but then we still did *kaka* We booked the Golden Sun Hotel 3 but they upgraded us to 4. Golden Sun Hotel 4 is really nice for the price that you are paying!! Its not posh but its new and have a pc with internet in the room, plus the bathroom is spacious! Definitely worth every single cent especially we are paying the price of 3 and we got 4! Just that its further away from the old quarter but still at a walkable distance.

Anyway after we checked in, we laze around the room and thought that we will go for Pho (Beef Noodles) for lunch! So we left the hotel before noon and when we reached the Pho Bat Dan: 49 Bat Dan, Old Quarter, Hanoi IT WAS CLOSE!!!! What shop closes so early one!! Its lunch time eh!! Then we went to two other Pho Shop that we found from the internet and both were closed too!! =((((( So disappointed la. So we were just walking around and we found ourselves at Cha Ca Street! So we started looking for Cha Ca La Vong: #14 Cha Ca, Old Quarter instead!

The only bit of research I did before Hanoi is on Vietnamese food =D I read that it is "The one place that everyone I asked said do not leave Hanoi without trying. More than a hundred years old and serving only one dish, this place is somewhat of a legend in the Hanoi food scene. It’s even snagged a coveted spot in Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before Your Die."
With a comment like that, how can I not try it?

This is the legendary dish!

At first it doesn't look anything special and we don't even know how to eat it.... so we just look around to see what others are doing and when you mix everything including the gravy from the fish and that sauce in the bowl (the one with some chili in it one) the taste is reaaaally amazing one!! I don't know how to describe it because I've not tried something that taste like this!! haha It's savoury and a bit sourish but not too sour, just a bit. Plus the fish is really fresh and it’s supposed to be some good quality fish la (dunno what fish forgot the name)

Mixed it like this and its yummy!!

After our lunch, we walked towards the Hoan Kiem Lake near the old quarter. The whole city is full of motorbikes!! My Halong Bay tour guide said that there are about 2 millions motorbikes (mostly scooters) in Hanoi!! And they horn like nobody's business!!

At the Hoan Kiem Lake

We actually went back to our hotel after less than 15 minutes at the lake!! Why?? Because mimi needs a nap!! muahahahaha She said that she woke up very early and its too hot!! So we went back to the hotel for a nap!! Can you believe it?? Go Hanoi to sleep!! tsk tsk tsk.... But then it was really hot la and we have been walking around a lot looking for 3 pho shops!!

We left the hotel again at about 4pm to go to the lake again =) Hoan Kiem Lake has the famous red bridge connecting to the Jade Mountain Temple. There’s even a couple taking wedding photos on the red bridge!! But so hot still dress in wedding gown?? Across the bridge, there is a small tower, built to honor the lake's golden tortoise of legend.

Read bout the golden tortoise

Mimi very poser lor..... haha

Then after that we walked around the old quarter looking for the much rave about Vietnamese Coffee. But before that, I got con while waiting for my sis to go to the atm! Before I know what’s happening, the lady passed me the scale thingy (the thing i’m holding la! - don't know what is it called) and then she just put her hat on my head!! Then mimi got excited and ask me to pose for photo then after that the lady ask me to buy pineapples!! So smart!! How to say no when you already took the photo??

Cafe Nhan: 39D Hang Hanh - Recommended by Beeloon. The coffee was nice nevertheless but I was expecting a local coffee shop instead of a tourist cafe!!

Iced Coffee with sweet condensed milk

Vietnamese Drip Coffee - which drips waaaay toooo sloooowly!! Seriously half an hour also not done!! Hot coffee also becomes cold coffee already lo...

Me lovey Vietnamese coffee!! And I don't even drink coffee one normally!! haha except for starbucks caramel macchiato!

Walking around Old Quarter. They have 36 streets and each street sells different things but every shop on that street sells the same thing!! haha Like this street sells shoes, then the whole street sell shoes! They have clothes, children toys, kitchen utensils, etc etc.... Surprisingly I didn't shop much!! Firstly cause of the weather you are so sticky and sweaty you don't feel like you wanna shop or try on clothes and secondly, it’s unlike bangkok, I feel their clothes and shoes are not so updated in trends! Or perhaps I didn't go to the right place cause I read somewhere that it’s very near China so shopping should be good too!!

Then we went for banh cuon (soft rice rolls) for snacks! Its actually like minced pork / chicken wrapped in super thin and smooth chee cheong fun!! haha But you also dip in some kind of sauce and its superrrrrrrrrrr yummy!! Seriously!! Its so good that I went back on our last day in Hanoi!! =P

One thing I don't understand bout Vietnam people is why do they have to sit on such a low chair to eat?? Why are their tables like kindergarden table for kids?? Why can't they use nice comfortable adult size chair and table?? Not like their ceiling is very low or what also!! Why do they like to feel like you are squatting when you eat?? But luckily food was good so it was worth the squat!! =P

Then after that we went for French and Vietnamese fusion food. Also to celebrate mimi's bday!! French food in Vietnam is supposedly to be famous too because the country was once colonized by the French! We went to the highly recommended Green Tangerine: #48 Hang Be, Old Quarter, Hanoi which offers modern french food with a vietnamese twist!

The restaurant is in a cosy little old colonial house. Food was really good and also wayyy cheaper than in KL!! I lovey french food!! But too bad they didn't have foie gras in the menu!

Appetizers: Some raw beef with deep fried cheese! YUMZ!!!!

Rabbit Meat

Duck Meat

Me =)

Super small cheesecake for dessert. Its more like a mousse than a cake! And I'm not a fan of mousse! So I didn't find it that great!

After dinner, we walked around the old quarter (got so many street ma, and don't think we even cover half of it!!)

Me buying souvenirs at the roadside =P

Walking at one of the night market

Next day, we decided to go for pho again! Earlier this time, we reached at around 10.30am and guessed what?? IT WAS CLOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GGGRRRRR.... what kinda shop closes at 10.30am one!!!!!!!!!!! =((((( All the way go to hanoi and didn't get to eat pho??

So we decided to go to the one nearby.... which was quite crowded.... probably because the famous one was closed and this was the nearest beef noodles store around!

We ordered both the beef and the chicken to try.... It was quite good!! Just that I didn’t like all the spring onions and smelly vege in it!! haha I think it would have tasted much more nicer without it!! =P

A bowl of delicious pho plus the "yau char kuay". Its different from those you find here cause the yau char kuay there is really hard and you need to soaked it in the hot beef noodle soup for it to soften and then its really yummy cause it absorbs the soup and is really tasty!! =D

Drinking sua dau nanh which is tau fu far plus soya bean drink! but the tau fu far is really smooth... but somehow I think the ipoh one is still better =P

Then after that we went to have che - a vietnamese dessert. It has mung beans (which I lovey), red beans, jelly, cendol and etc and then shaved ice... something like our ice kacang but the mung beans is smashed and makes the drink thicker and yummier!! A fantastic drink for hot weather!!

YUMZ but a bit too sweet!

Then after that we took a cab to Chua Tran Quoc at Ho Tay, the West Lake of Hanoi. It’s the more posh area in Hanoi. Chua Tran Quoc is one of the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. And guess what? We reached there about 12 noon and it only opens at 2pm!! What's with Hanoi ar?? Sight seeing supposed to open early they open late, beef noodles supposed to be open til late but they close early!! So while waiting for it to open we just walked around the area and I did a bit of shopping =D The only shopping I did in Hanoi!!

The Chua Tran Quoc Red Pagoda

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

You know I don't like museum right? hehe but I was more than happy to go into this one cause.......... it is air conditioned!! muahahahaha The first floor is actually photos of Ho Chi Minh and the events or things he has done for Vietnam. Second floor is more like a modern art gallery of the history of Hanoi. Quite interesting I must say.... but..... I'm still not a museum person =P

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Gimme 5, Mr Ho!

We didn’t go to the place where Ho Chi Minh body was kept cause it closes at a ridiculous time!! Around 9am or 10am if I am not mistaken! Anyway its closed when we were there! So we didn't get to see the one pillar pagoda!! =( Anyway after that, we went to Van Mieu, the Temple of Literature. Its supposed to be the place where the royalties studied last time. Like a university for them.

Vietnamese girls in their traditional clothes! Pretty but so hot still wear like that!! hehe

After that, we went for dinner at chicken street!! No prize for guessing what we had!! Haha chicken la of course!! Its grilled chicken.... bbq chicken wings, chicken drumstick and even chicken feet!! And seems like the chicken feet is the most popular one among the locals!

Do you know what I love best among all? Its the bread!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its seriously OMG kinda yummy!! At first I didn't wanna order the bread cause its those french loaf that I see people selling at the road side and I am not a bread person! but then I thought just try la.... and its seriously damn good!!! We ended up ordering 3 loaf and I ate like one and a half!! It's that good!! They actually flattened the bread and grilled it with honey and don't know what else! Its a bit like croissant coated with honey but crispier! Super yumz!! And I was talking bout the bread the whole night!!

Again it was worth the squat!!

After that, we went back to the old quarter area. Decided to go to Highlands Cafe for Vietnamese coffee and also get mimi a birthday cake! Highlands Cafe is like their local starbucks.... They have a branches everywhere in Vietnam.

The Hoan Kiem Lake at night

View of the city from the Highlands Cafe

Super thick and fresh mango smoothie, Vietnamese ice coffee, Vietnamese coffee cheesecake

Happy Birthday Mimi!! =D

Next will be Halong Bay!! Verrrrrry beautiful!! Definitely must go at least once in your lifetime! There's a reason why it was nominated as one of the 7 wonders of the World! But don't think they won though! haha