Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

A journey through South-East Asia

Waiting for the quiet of night
Hanoi, November 29

VN-820 - that was the number of the Vietnam Airlines flight that brought me from Vientiane to Hanoi, from Laos to Vietnam. The taxi dropped me at the Mahn Dung guesthouse, a 'friendly place', located in a 'small, quiet street in the old quarter'. That is what the guidebook said, and that is why Christina and I choose this place as our meeting place, as our starting point for our trip through Vietnam.

Christina came with a long distance flight from Germany, and what we both learned about Hanoi very soon was that 'quiet' is a quite relative word. Compared to other streets in the old quarter, our street was quiet... but compared to Laos, it was way too loud. We spent the first night in Vietnam waiting for the quiet of night to arrive, waiting for the city to fall asleep, to give us a chance to get to the land of dreams. Alas, it wouldn't.

The next morning, we tried our best to get accustomed to the traffic and the crowds of people criss-crossing the countless streets, while we tried to find the way to Hoan Kiem Lake, "an enchanting body of water right in the heart of Hanoi". Again, we had to learn that words and expectations are relative, and it was there, at the lakeside, next to a four lane street, that we decided to cut our visit to Hanoi short, and to get out of this city of three million honking motorbikes as soon as possible.

A poster we saw in a travel agency promised emerald waters and peaceful dreams: all included in a tour to Halong Bay, 'two days, one night, sleep on the boat'. It didn't take us long to pack our bags.

Part 8: Sleep on the boat

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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