My flight from Surabaya to Kuala Lumpur was arrived at around 1 o’clock midnight in the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). A warehouse looked airport that never empty…. Budget airline really change the world! Airport was a luxury place when I was a kid, now… it is a warehouse with some people laying on its corner, awaiting for their next flight. Those people looked really expert, I mean, most of them have sleeping mat with them. It was good that this LCCT have plenty of space, toilets and drinking fountain, perfect place for transit. The next flight to Hanoi would be departed on next 4-5 hours. So…. we found a corner to lay down a bit, but still couldn’t sleep well…. I think I’m not as gypsy as I thought before, hahaha!
A taxi driver picked me up at the Hanoi airport. At the first glance, it was a nice van, air-co, fit perfectly for 5 adult plus luggage….. The next second……It was an adrenaline test! Hahaha!! Why? 1# Vietnam is left steering, while Indo is right steering, and it kept me think that the driver was riding too far to the middle! 2# Every time we crossed with another cars (or whatever) the driver hit the horn, instead of break! I was thinking that my driver was crazy! But….a moment later, I found that everyone did that! I think this is the Vietnamese basic rule for driving, hit the horn not the break! Should I explain more about the traffic? No, worst wasn’t a good expression for it, I might say, it was challenging! Hahaha!
Actually, this whole Vietnam trip was a challenge…… I read a lot in the net that taxi driver like to hijack us, took us to another hotel, not the hotel we have booked. Why, of course for commission! That’s why, I was a bit paranoid, so we asked the hotel to arrange the pick up driver in the airport. I also read (on the net, where else??) that tour agent in VN like to cheat tourist. They promise the good junk boat on Halong Bay, and it was end up a literary “junk boat”, and all the crew couldn’t speak English, so, complaining would be waste of time. It is well known that there are many copycat in Hanoi tourist industry. Once a travel agent got many clients for their good reputation, there will be some other tour agent using its name! I’m so nervous about Hanoi!
Well… after wandering around Hanoi for 2 hours, I started to think that I like Hanoi….. I shouldn’t need to be that nervous tough! OK, I need to be careful, and aware… but that’s normal!
Anyway…. I met some good Hanoi people via net too. They’re “The Hanoi Free Tour Guides” They’re student or graduated, who like to improve their English, and of course enjoy meeting new people. I was wandering around Hanoi with them, and it was a really nice experience! So… the net gave me both positive and negative things!
The hotel was in the old quarter, almost in the center of tourist spot. It name is The Hanoi Hostel. A lovely area, surrounded by four to five storey France style old houses, small shops, many local foods, narrow busy road and its horn symphony! Yes, symphony, cos they have various sounds of horn, some of them really annoying! Motorcycle is the most popular transport in Hanoi, and it makes crossing street become more and more challenging! The worst thing was, I always forgot that Vietnamese driving on the right side of the road! So, I always turned my head to the wrong direction, every time I crossed the road!
Beside the traffic, Hanoi is an interesting place! Burger is not popular there, but…. french bread are! They eat them as breakfast, together with omelet or something else. Sometimes they stuffed it with meat and veggies for snack or dinner. The special thing was, they made their own special sauce, with mixed butter, instead of using jarred mayo and ketchup. The sauce looked like tick undefined color substance!! I didn’t care what they put in there, it taste good, and I didn’t get stomached, that’s enough! Hahaha! Hanoi people also have sidewalks café! Forget those sophisticated sidewalks café in France! The Hanoi sidewalk restaurant version are using squatting size plastic chair and table! It is good, light, effective, easy to stacks, since most of the café/restaurant are temporal. What to eat? Pho! That’s the most common food in VN, and of course sea food! One day, I walk along the old quarter, I saw some people eat big crab on the “squating sidewalk café” I almost have my neck dislocated for staring their plates while walking! Now I’m drooling while writing this post! Arggh!!
The hotel where I stay was 4 storey narrow house. Just like any other Hanoi houses, they’re narrow and have minimum 4 storey! Every morning I climbed to the roof top, to have my breakfast, and enjoy the pleasant Hanoi morning air, watching the road before it is getting crowded. Every 6pm-7pm, there are free beer for the guest, to bad, I didn’t try the local beer. VN people love beer, mostly fresh beer! They were easily spotted everywhere, on the squatting sidewalk café, or restaurant, start at the evening till drop.