Archive | December, 2014

Tis The Season

Bride and Groom Lighting Candels

For professional portraits, apparently.

All over Vietnam we saw couples and what appeared to be recent graduates dressed to the nines with professional camera crews in tow in scenic spots like Hoi An’s riverfront and Hanoi’s Temple of Literature. It was quite nice, actually. 

We intruded just a little to sneak a few photos of our own. I hope they don’t mind. Their presence added such a wonderfully personal and totally joyous context to the places we were visiting. We were happy to share these brief moments with them, however distantly. We really wish them all the best. 

Where to Eat in Hanoi

Typical sidewalk restaurant in Hanoi

Typical sidewalk restaurant in Hanoi

Travel in Asia is all about the food. At least it has been for us. And nowhere have we found ourselves so overwhelmed with dining options than in Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s hard to take a step in the city’s old quarter without passing someone cooking up something wonderful. Deciding from which of the many food shacks, sidewalk stalls, and sit-down restaurants to sample is the hardest choice we typically faced on any given day.

Making matters worse, restaurant review sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp aren’t terribly helpful here. We’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with those sites anyway. But in Asia they have the added challenge that many of the best eateries don’t have western names, or even any names at all.

You won’t find a review on Tripadvisor for the lady spooning up Pho Ga from some random alley because there really isn’t any way to add her to the site. What you will find instead are reviews for a bunch of larger establishments with identifiable names and addresses. They may not serve the best food, but they are popular among the westerners who use Tripadvisor.

Because of that dynamic we spent a lot of time trolling through alternative sources of information like blogs, travel articles, and local recommendations to find the best places to eat in Hanoi. We don’t offer this as a definitive list, but these are the best places we sampled during our week-long Hanoi food odyssey.

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Why we don’t (always) haggle

Vietnamese Bowls

A seemingly travel-wise road warrior once told us to “never accept the first price you’re offered in South East Asia. Everything here is negotiable. I just don’t understand why some people won’t haggle.”

We’ve come to a bit of a different conclusion. Perhaps a story is the best way to explain.

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Santa’s Sleigh in Hoi An, Vietnam

A bike with presents Hoi An, Vietnam

Merry Christmas, everyone!

How to survive the streets of Hanoi

The Streets of Hanoi-2

Other travelers had warned us about a lot of things concerning Vietnam, most of which turned out not to be true. The one thing that they had mostly right, though, was the unique challenge of simply trying to cross the street in Hanoi.

Motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, and cars all bear down on you from every direction. It never stops; not for other vehicles or for red lights and certainly not for pedestrians. If you want to get anywhere in the city you’ll eventually have to wade into these waves of rushing metal. Fortunately there are rules that govern this madness of crowds which, if followed, will see you safely through the seeming chaos.

Here’s how to survive as a pedestrian on the clogged and crazy streets of Hanoi.

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