You know, I literally knew very little about Vietnam. The only thing that came to mind was the Vietnam War or listening to my relatives talk about their "time in 'Nam'..." It wasn't until my friend moved there for the summer that I even considered exploring the country and its culture. I am so glad I did!
WHERE: HANOI, VIETNAM
|The U.S. Embassy takes care of its employees!|
|Thank you U.S. government!|
|They even helped me to speak.|
WHEN: July 2011, 3 days
WITH: My Korean-American "little brother!" (We stayed with a friend from back home as well.)
WHY: My friend was working there and the tickets were cheap!
We stayed with my friend who was working for the U.S. Embassy. Her place was magnificent! It was definitely a welcomed change from what I had been living in I'll say that. We visited:
The Temple of Literature
|At the Temple of Literature|
If you've never heard of this place, I strongly recommend you do a little research on it. Fascinating!
We dined at KOTO ("Know One Teach One") Restaurant:
|YUMMY and SUPER cheap! I think it was like $9 USD for all of this?|
It is really remarkable what they do with the youth who work here. It made me happy to know I was able to be a part of this experience.
There was another restaurant we stumbled upon...twice. They had such deliciously fresh fruit and dishes!
|RIGHT ON TIME...DELISH!|
And my friend introduced us to her friends and took us to this DELICIOUS place!
|I have no idea what half this stuff is but it was ALL delicious.|
We stopped by the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (where he read the Declaration of Independence)...
We got lost in alleyways shopping in one of the famous mart areas...
|Chicken to go? I still don't get this one.|
|They will try to hustle you after this "free" picture lol.|
We visited HaNoi Prison...
|Can you imagine having to sit like that? Just tragic.|
|Imagine crawling through here...|
|Senator McCain returned to the prison.|
And dodged the COUNTLESS bikers on the streets sans traffic lights or signs...
This was the last leg of our three-country trip (Bangkok, Thailand & Manila, Philippines). We were very fortunate because it was also the cheapest. Thanks to my friend providing housing and tourist shortcuts for us, we were able to save money. We used all the leftover currency we had from other countries as our funds for this part of the trip. We were even able to do laundry there (we had been traveling with a backpack halfway filled with dirty clothes). We thanked my friend (and her roommates) for the hospitality then headed back to the airport.
While we were there, we were a bit disappointed that there wasn't much to do. The airport is really small, so if you plan to get your last minute souvenirs there, I wouldn't bank on them having what you are looking for. Unless you are looking for this:
|Shall I pour you a shot?|
WHAT I WISH I HAD DONE DIFFERENTLY:
- Make sure you have a water bottle with you at ALL TIMES! If you are going to go to Vietnam in the summer, YOU. NEED. WATER!
- Try to head to every place you want to go that is around the same neighborhood so you can walk to some places if possible. The taxi fee can eat up your money. Or if you are feeling adventurous, rent a bike for the day or hop on the back of someone else's.
- Be prepared to barter. They can be fairly aggressive.
- Start your day early so you can beat the sun then relax during the hottest part of the day and start up again in the evening.
- Learn basic Vietnamese phrases or carry a translator/phrase book. Don't just rely on English.