Vietnam · 4 Days · 16 Moments · December 2016

Christmas 2016: last stop, Hanoi!


1 January 2017

Starting 2017 with the breakfast of queens! The Ann Hotel was a last minute booking due to our change of plans for the end of our trip, and when we got a Genius offer on Booking.com we decided that we could live with the location being further out of town for the price we got it for. Despite a few hospitality and service hiccups, we really enjoyed our stay there. The highlight was definitely the breakfast. The buffet was wide-ranging and the egg station chefs were really good. My New Year breakfast started with poached eggs, bacon, baked beans and toast, followed by freshly-made waffles with maple syrup and banana, finishing up with fresh fruit and yoghurt. I subsequently didn't have to eat anything until our streetfood tour at 6pm!! We chilled and did some packing until about 1pm, when we went to a Hanoi cinema to see Star Wars: Rogue One, which we really enjoyed, then back to the hotel to grab our jackets for our motorbike streetfood tour - yay!!

31 December 2016

We got back to our hotel by about 6.30pm, hungry and ready to have some New Year's drinks! We dropped off our bags and set straight back out in search of some tasty local food. We'd heard about a place called Bun Cha Ta, which started off as a street food joint and has gradually built itself up to become a 2-storey little restaurant. The prices are only a little higher than the street stalls and for that you get a comfy, cosy interior restaurant setting, wifi and a functioning, vaguely sanitary toilet! We ordered the house speciality, Bun Cha Ta, which is bun cha with added spring rolls in the side. It was hands down the tastiest bun cha we had! We then ventured onto the increasingly busy NYE streets, only to head off them pretty quickly when we spotted a neon sign for a rooftop bar that looked fairly empty. 6 stories up in a fascinating, warren-like Hanoi building and we found ourselves a beer with a brilliant view! However, it became increasingly busy in the 30 minutes we were t
We decided to get out of the city for a day trip to visit the first ancient capital of Vietnam, a spot of bike riding through some inland karst scenery at Tam Coc followed by a boat ride into some caves. Here, the men and women row down the river with their feet, as you do! The river was pretty packed with other tourist boats with 2-6 visitors in. The caves were interesting but not overwhelming but the boat ride was fairly relaxing. I did have a numb bum after about 10 minutes so after an hour in a tiny boat I'd had enough!
Saturday 31st December We decided to get out of the city for a day trip to visit the first ancient capital of Vietnam, a spot of bike riding through some inland karst scenery at Tam Coc followed by a boat ride into some caves.

30 December 2016

We inadvertently ended up shopping for artwork... πŸ™„
Random unplanned lunch stop in a cute little place called Viahe's ☺️🍜 Out and about around Hanoi! We were walking into the Old Quarter whilst keeping our eyes open for a lunch spot, and whilst stood waiting for some lights to change Phil spotted this little place. The guys who ran the joint were lovely and excited to have new, western customers! Later on after a wander we grabbed some bun cha on the street, however it was actually pretty disappointing and we realised we made the mistake of getting caught up in the main tourist spot, so the quality was pretty poor. You win some, you lose some: won't make that mistake again! For the best local food, always follow the locals πŸ˜‰ streetfood tour booked for Sunday!!
We found a cool market down an alleyway 😊 initially it started out with vegetables, then fish, crabs and lobsters, then we turned a corner and found ourselves amongst rolls and rolls of fabric! Then some underwear next to the bike park, then back into fresh produce, including the noodles Vietnamese eat in bun cha, amongst other dishes. Fab place!
Friday 30th December: So, every time we find passionfruit Phil does the passionfruit challenge. He selects 3 different-looking halves to try to discover how to find the perfect balance when tasting passionfruit πŸ™„ (this is something that gets repeated quite a lot when we are in SE Asia...). Story goes as follows: Phil lines up 3 passionfruit halves from 3 different passionfruits, different colours and wrinklyness, in his quest to discover how to tell if a passionfruit isn't so tart it blows your brains. On this occasion, he went from no.1, bearable, through no.2, somewhat too tart, to no.3, completely ridiculously unbearable! It's a shame Journi doesn't currently facilitate video uploads. The clip is utterly hilarious!

29 December 2016

Thursday 29th December: We've arrived in Hanoi. Of course it's going to be all about food. Oh, and maybe a spot of shopping! We first headed to familiar territory. When we visited Hanoi over Tet in 2015 we loved this little place, Buon Dua Le Cafe, and we had initially booked the attached guesthouse, The Artisan, for what was originally our 1 night night stay in Hanoi. After changing our plans we ended up booking The Ann for all 4 nights as The Artisan didn't have space over NY and luckily had free cancellation. Deferring from the point... Food! We started off our Hanoi stint with Bia HΓ  Nα»™i, fresh spring rolls, bun cha and beef pho. Can't get more Vietnamese than that! We walked off our dinner by picking up a chocolate tart at a local coffee shop, wandering around a few local shops around St Joseph's Cathedral and Phil picking up some more food...