Hanoi and Ha Long Bay✔️
Be careful what you eat. I mean it.
In Vietnam you really need to be careful what you eat… I always try to be open minded and understand other cultures. We might think that eating dogs or cats is crazy but people from other countries might think eating cows is unacceptable. I myself eat vegan and most of the time was hungry there. Maybe I’m wrong because I didn’t spent much time in Vietnam, but it was really hard for me to find anything without suspiciously looking meat. I still have a trauma after seeing a cat in a soup and other horrible things I don’t want to write about. You can also try a coffee with an egg that is often served in a cup put in a bowl with warm water. Looks funny and interesting yet even if I wouldn’t be vegan, I think I’d pass on this one – too weird combo for my taste 😉
I spend my trip eating “banh mi” which is a ban with a carrot (only vegan option) and fresh spring rolls…
I wouldn’t get to know Vietnamese cuisine if I wouldn’t take a boat tour where a chef promised to make vegan dishes for me, so I tried many courses but I don’t know their names. There was a lot of soy and fermented soy, tofu, green veggies, and of course rice (including fermented rice that I tried for the first time). It was all very good and brought back my appetite.
Ha Long Bay
Few years ago I saw pictures of Ha Long Bay with 2000 limestone islands and islets, covered with lush green, and surrounded by turquoise water. It became a dream to see this place with my own eyes until I got there and realised the power of Photoshop in google pictures…
Ha Long Bay is an amazing place but if you imagine it like a turquoise paradise where you can swim in a clear water – you can be a bit disappointed. It’s not Raja Ampat or Gili Islands, it is just a different kind of paradise.
If you don’t spend a lot of time in Vietnam, the best idea is just to choose one of the hundreds of bout tours in Ha Long Bay. They differ in price and standard. Usually the programs are similar, and you can try kayaking, which is a great attraction in that place, also swimming in a special beach, going to the view point, visiting the pearl farm (very sad place when you see the proces of implanting a plastic pearl and taking it out when it’s ready from a living creature), exploring caves, and karaoke on the boat.
I think there’s a karaoke obsession in Vietnam 😆 It’s everywhere! When you drive across the country, the landscape is usually like this: rice fields, very narrow and long houses, karaoke bars every 5 meters 😉 I thought I’m not a good singer so I shouldn’t do this to people, but I found out that there’s no reason to care about it, and I should take an example from others who were singing (to put it nicely) “My heart will go on” for the whole night when I was stuck on the boat 😉
Hanoi is a bustling capital of the communist Vietnam. To be precise, it it The Socialist Republic of Vietnam which is a one-party state. In the city center you can take a look at the Lenin’s statue and visit Ho Chi Minh mauzoleum – the biggest tourist attraction in the city, with a long waiting line to see the displayed body of “the uncle” Ho Chi Minh from 1975… That’s another tourist attraction I cannot understand and I passed on this as well as I’m not interested in looking at the corpse, even if it is a well preserved one. I cannot find any reason why would I spend my precious time like this.
In the Old Quarter you can buy silk, traditional paintings, green jade jewellery, super cool cone shape hat, and everything you can imagine. I chose a kimono and it took me a while to decide which color to take as there is so many beautiful patterns😅 and of course I didn’t want to take it off for the whole trip 😉
In Hanoi there are small temples in the narrow streets and in almost every shop and restaurant (or other business place) you will see a small altar with offerings like Cola, a meal, a pack of cigarets or more traditional like incense and flowers. I’ve heard that it’s for their ancestors.
I was very curious about the “super skinny” houses and thought that this architecture must be something traditional but I saw very modern ones built the same way. They are often called the tube houses. The Old Quarter may seem chaotic because every tube house is in a different color, shape and floors are not even with the neighbouring houses. I found out only the explanation that this type of architecture roots in the old days when France was colonising Vietnamese cities and applied a tax based on the front measure of the house. Therefore, people started building them narrow and long in order to avoid paying high taxes. Nowadays, it is a tradition Vietnamese got used to and continue it till this day.
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