Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hanoi - 4th Impressions

About two weeks ago...

This was our fourth visit to Hanoi and it's just as kaleidoscopic and cacophonic, as we left it 18 months ago. During the drive from the airport into the city we noticed many more motorbike helmets (and not sitting in the scooter basket), than last time...the smog haze, sadly, looked just the same.
London to a brick she's wearing stocking socks.
Just as in Thailand, staying out of the sun's tanning rays while riding around town, is a major priority, especially for the fairer sex. It's not uncommon to see women completely covered from head to toe. When the sun shines, this is the land of wide brim hats, decorated with ribbons, flowers and bibs and bobs...
... face masks, gloves and stockings. This time, instead of long sleeved shirts and gloves, or just long sleeved gloves, some fashionistas were sporting hooded sweat shirts, with extensions that cover the top of the hands, or with mittens built into the end of the sleeve. The hood fits neatly under the motorbike helmet and the front is zippable up to the nose. Too warm for me in the Hanoi heat I'm afraid, but practical, inexpensive and popular.
Unlike the advertisement in Air Asia's flight magazine for an expensive cosmetic product 'designed especially for Asian women', boasting that it creates 'perfect "V" shape contours, from every angle'. Huh? Don't get me started on skin whitening and pink nipple creams.

A friend of ours joked that she can't recognise her friends when she's out and about town, because only the eyes are visible.

City road frontage in Vietnam is worth it's weight in gold. So much so, that some buildings are the width of a doorway.
However, what they lack in width, they usually make up for in height and depth. And I do mean, depth. Many of these buildings retreat 15 or more metres back from the street and not always in a straight line. For some I know, the out of plumbness of it all, would be an assault on the senses. Doorways can often lead down corridors that lead to back doors and shop fronts. This is the entrance to a massage/beauty salon business.
This was taken looking out of the shop's actual front door.
Our Charming Hotel was about 2.5 metres wide, downstairs, I never saw the upper floors. Our room had an amply sized bathroom and bedroom furnished with a PC/Internet, desk, cupboard, TV, fridge and a queen size SOFT bed. Just enough space to walk around the bed, but barely enough room to swing a cat in...which might have come in handy, as I'm sure there were rats between our ceiling and the floor above. Don't get me wrong, it was very clean and comfortable and I checked for any entry or exit holes ;)
Mother of all shower heads
We stayed in the only ground floor room at the rear, away from the inevitable night street noise, which also had a sound proof inner door to keep out any ruckus from the lobby. A little tomb like, but wonderful for sleeping, and it did have a view.
The neighbour's wall, a varying short distance away, with strategically placed plant pots in between. Gotta smile!

So, we settled in for a few days to catch up with old friends in the city of oh my aching back stools...
...women dressed in outfits which I naively once thought were pyjamas...well, some might be...
Cool, breezy and comfy.
...and tasty dishes.


Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

What a great window into Vietnam. So close, it's a place I've never been.

Btw - What is your favourite time of year to visit?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine we usually visit in March or September/October, which is generally OK. Perhaps December/January would be cooler, but not cold.

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap some great words and pictures but you're meant to be convincing me Vietnam is a place I want to visit. Shoebox size hotels, plastic chairs and multi-coloured spotted pyjamas are hardly going to do so, though I must add the plate of food at the bottom of the post does look rather tasty.

Luckily for Vietnam their people are not the tallest in the world otherwise there would seem to be even less space about.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Martyn This being our fourth time there, we don't do the touristy things anymore, therefore are left to our own devices...wandering around aimlessly in between visiting friends. I guess now I have more time to notice the little things.

Like Thailand, I find that the smaller cities and towns have much more charm, especially those not on the tourist track.

You must go, at least once.

colin said... Best Blogger Tips

Looks great. How do you usually make your way to Vietnam from Thailand. Air or land?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@colin we start in Hanoi and work our way south, leaving HCMC (Saigon) as our departure point. It makes for a shorter flight home, or back to Thailand. This time we used Air Asia for the external flights and Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar for the internal flights. It can be a bit of a pain organising it yourself, but can work out much cheaper...and I like doing that kind of stuff :)

Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

love the pictures - extreme!

okay i'm catching up. moving on to the next post. xxoo

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Lani it's a 'must go' place. You'll either love it...or not.