Crossing the street in Hanoi is an adventure
Traffic throughout Vietnam is chaotic and traffic laws and traffic lights seem to be mere suggestions there. In the old city of Hanoi, crossing the streets is exceptionally difficult because there is a constant stream of cars and motorbikes and they do not stop for anything. At intersections, traffic from different directions merely try to weave around each other with no order.
As a foreigner from a country where traffic laws are both strict and obeyed, this was mind-blowing. And how in the world is a pedestrian supposed to cross these streets, because the traffic certainly won't stop for you.
The trick is to walk into the traffic and across the street very calmly and slowly. Don't be frightened of the approaching traffic, as they will swerve around you on both sides but never actually hit you. But do not attempt to run across the street or make other sudden moves, as then the traffic will not have time to react to your movements and consequently hit you. This may sound like suicide, but trust me... it works! (see photo for an example of how its done)
Do not use Sihn cafe located in Hanoi
I just came back from a three week trip to South-east Asia. We planned as we went and only used a travel agent once.
Unfortunately for us, the one we chose was Sihn cafe in Hanoi. We booked three things with them, one hotel, a train ticket from Sapa back to Hanoi, and a trip to Halong bay, which included an overnight stay on the boat.
The guy screwed up all three bookings. We got to the hotel in Sapa, and they had no room. On the train trip, the seats had been sold twice, and the halong bay trip was overbooked as well. Either he did this intentionally, or he is grossly incompentent. Either way, avoid Sihn cafe.
The Sihn Cafe I used is located accross from the Hanoi train station. Maybe the other ones are better.
Crossing the road
Once you get used to the trick then it is quite easy, but at first it might seem almost impossible.
What you need to do is almost ignore all the traffic and just walk slowly acroos the raod. As long as you are predictable then the mass of bikes and motorcycles (and occasional motor vehicle) will flow around you. Fortunately the speed of traffic is not too high so it works quite well.
Old Quarter Traffic in Hanoi
The dreaded Honda Dream has become the bane of the Old Quarter. The footpaths are clogged with these parked bikes often forcing pedestrians on to the road. It is really dangerous.
My wife and I were walking on the edge of the road behind an old lady when a bike hit my wife who was third in the line. Luckily she was not hurt too badly but the worst part was having to run away from the scene as all the shop owners were telling us we would be held responsible because we were Westerners.
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Snakes & snails & puppy-dog tails...
...that's what Hanoi food is made of (my apologies to the old children's poem)
Some Hanoi food is great, more subtle and sophisticated than food in Saigon. Many people think that Hanoi is the culinary capitol of Vietnam, and I agree.
Hanoi's culinary contributions are some of the best the world has ever tasted: Pho, Bun Cha, Cha Ca to name a few.
But some food is downright nasty, sensitive readers beware:
snake meat, thit cho (dog), bun oc (snail noodle soup), mam tom (decomposed shrimp paste). To eat the really exotic food, you have to go to special restaurants. But snails are everywhere and shrimp paste is everywhere in Vietnam. I've had snake and snails and shrimp paste, not bad. Snake is kind of tough and macho; snails are chewy, but can be quite good; shrimp paste pungent, but goes really well with tofu, just don't inhale. But dog? I refuse to try.
- Food and Dining
If you decide to buy postcards etc from anyone on the street make sure you use the correct money. I was ripped off and given the wrong change and no ammount of complaining got my money back. This was the only time in Vietnam where someone wasn't completely honest.
I also found that it was much easier to keep a supply of small change rather than large notes as most taxi drivers and small shops couldn't change large notes.
When go to Bai Chay (belong Ha...
When go to Bai Chay (belong Ha Long )beach ,boder between China and VietNam ,you must be aware about DRUGS PROBLEM of young people here (get from China suppliers).A lot of NEEDLES under the small trees ,so please if you bring children go with you ,pay attention when they run around without shoes on the beach .
Off late, a number of visitors...
Off late, a number of visitors have been scammed at the One-pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. Just before entering, they were told that they would have to leave their bags and camera equipment outside. Upon returning, the 'guards', and the stuff, were gone. There are a couple of places where you must indeed leave your bags, such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, but there you will find proper guards in uniform, and a safe storage. If in doubt, check what the local tourists do.
Take care crossing the road.
Walk at a steady pace in a predictable manner and traffic will go round you. Don't lose your nerve or do anything unexpected.
Temple of Literature
I guess this is the kind of stuff that goes on at night here.... i saw this at the back of the complex under a tree....
a successfull merger
Crossing the street in Vietnam is an aquired skill...you have to have NO FEAR and push yourself through on coming traffic... You should be fine if you cross slowly but confidently
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