After 16 hours we arrived in Hanoi, after a short stop in Bangkok. As Norwegians we should be able to get a 15 day visa at arrival, but we had no idea where and how. A lot of people queued up at the Visa-on-arrival-desk, but we decided to go straight to the passport control instead. A Danish guy confirmed that it should be ok, and he was right. We went straight through in no time, and actually had to wait a while for our bags. After going through customs, we spotted the driver from our hotel, and at the same time Fredrik’s aunt and uncle (Kirsti and Jens Harald), who we had no idea were going to Vietnam at all, came over to say hi. It’s a small world!! We didn’t have much time to talk since our driver were waiting and they where going with a group, but it was a nice surprise to meet them.
It took about 40 minutes to Hanoi old quarter from the airport, and when we got into the hotel (Hanoi 3B Hotel) we were welcomed with a drink and a lot of sorries because our room was not ready (this was before 12 AM). After about ten minutes where they told us about daytrips and sights in the area, we were taken to our deluxe room on the seventh floor. A very nice guy, who spoke no English, were able to show us all the amenities of our room and our private balcony with a great view of the old town.
After a quick change of clothes we were ready to get to know the city of Hanoi. The traffic was overwhelming with motorbikes coming from every direction (even on the sidewalks and the wrong way on one-way streets). In addition the sidewalks were full of street vendors and parked motorbikes, so it took us a while to relax and especially crossing the larger roads were a bit scary. But after following some locals a couple of times we quickly got the hang of it. Just keep the pace, and stay away from buses and trucks.
We needed some local money, and chose the maximum amount of 2.000.000 Dong (100 USD). After conversion it didn’t seem like much, but after a few local beers and some food we realized it would probably last a while. Hoan Kiem Lake is just a few blocks from our hotel, and was a nice place to relax and get away from the traffic for a while. After a short break, we were ready for the chaotic but very charming old quarter again, and walked up to Dong Xuan night market, where they sold everything from kitchenware to Dolce & Gabbana baby shoes.
In the evening we had dinner at a restaurant recommended by Dragon (the receptionist at our hotel). We were a bit jet-lagged and didn’t really know the opening hours of the restaurants, so we arrived just when they were closing (9.30 PM). Luckily the Vietnamese people are always helpful, so we got a table and had a great meal. Before going to sleep we shared a beer from the minibar and discussed where to go next. Originally we planned to do one country at the time, but since the weather forecast for the coast of Vietnam is not that great for the next week, we might do something completely different. Stay tuned!!