On board the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok, the traveller sampled some Indian airline fare. Paneer and chicken tikka were not particularly the travelers fave options at 2am in the morning.
At Bangkok airport, passengers disembarked and boarded a shuttle bus to a section of the airport that seemed to be reserved for us noisy Indians. Later, the traveller was gently admonished by security personnel for not putting back the baggage tray in the right place, as fellow companion rolled her eyes… “Had to travel with a rookie”, she thought.
Catching the connecting flight to Hanoi, the traveller caught a glimpse of the rainy weather in Thailand. The devastating typhoon that had hit the Philippines would surely affect the weather in the region. He hoped Hanoi would be better.
En route to Hanoi, a refreshing breakfast of steaming prawn fried rice with cranberry cheese cake helped uplift spirits.
The flight landed at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi about a half hour late in rather cloudy weather.
Immigration was a fairly long process, though well organised. There is a queue where foreigners submit their passports, visa on arrival approval letters and forms. They wait until their name is called out after which they pay the stamping fee (25 USD per person for single entry, as of Dec 2017) and collect their passports. As an Indian passport holder, the traveller got a one month duration visa.
The visa on arrival process could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, so travellers should keep that in mind before planning onward journeys. Whenever possible, get a visa in advance before you travel to save time.
After another 40 minute wait for the actual stamping of the visa, we collected our bags (backpack with no zippers was intact with no sign of tampering). We’d arranged an airport pickup so we met our hassled driver who’d waited a couple of hours for us. Exchanged a few USD right outside the airport to get us through the day (at surprisingly decent exchange rates).
First glimpses of Hanoi on the drive to our hotel…. Looks a lot like India 🙂
Arriving at our destination, we grabbed our welcome drinks and ensured we got a room facing the street. Hotel staff are extremely polite and courteous. A shower and change later, the traveller and his companion were out on the streets looking for some lunch. Now Vietnam is an interesting place if you like street food, but the lack of an English menu played with our tired senses and we decided to eat at our hotel’s restaurant instead. On the 14th floor with a view of Hanoi city, one can savour stir fried duck.
Hunger overcome, it was time for a quick nap. Said nap ended 3 hours later… 6:30 pm local time. The sun had gone down. We grabbed some bottled water and headed out for the evening. There was a slight nip in the air, the temperature around 18 degrees Celsius. This was light jacket weather.
After a short walk to a nearby “lake” , much of which we couldn’t see in the dark, we headed toward the “old quarters”. Lined with Street food stalls, foot massage parlours these were the usual sights of bustling Asian streets. We headed towards a section of the quarters where there are a number of hostels along a single narrow lane, jostling for space with cafes and restaurants.
A light snack instead of dinner was decided on and the traveller also sampled his first local Vietnamese beer.
With that, the traveller and his companion headed back to their hotel. A quiet but interesting first glimpse of Hanoi. Next up… Halong Bay. Stay tuned for more!
Pictures taken with my Apple iPhone SE
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