I travelled to Hanoi recently, but have hesitated to write about the trip in fears of seeming horribly ungrateful. We should never be ungrateful when it comes to travel and every new cultural experience expands our horizons. The thing is, only when I returned did I discover that Hanoi is now the most polluted city in South East Asia. I would have chosen a different destination if I had known that beforehand. It was this factor that marred trips to Delhi and Beijing and made me fall ill. The air quality ruined it for me and made me appreciate Singapore’s currently clean air (apart from the months of haze) even more.
I now prefer Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi as somehow every meal I had there was far superior and it was not that polluted. But perhaps it was because I visited Ho Chi Minh City a few years back.
Also the trip started off wrong as we waited more than an hour for our bags and were worried they got lost. And when we hopped off the plane we were expecting it to be cool but it was very hot. But all that soon remedied itself as the temperatures dropped from 28 to 17 in the days that followed.
But the main thing that ruined the trip was the food poisoning I had on the Halong Bay cruise which I feel was a rip-off. The food was terrible and the bathroom only had a curtain to cordon it off and no door – to me that’s a nightmare when you’re having food poisoning.
I did love the splurge nights at Sofitel Metropole, one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve been in with the most wonderful tour. And of course the spa (sounding very princessy and spoilt I know).
And the ride through the crazy traffic was quite an experience. Much better than going on foot when even at the pedestrian crossings cars and motorbikes don’t stop. It is recommended that you walk at a steady pace and let the vehicles swerve around and avoid you, but it’s extremely unnerving if you’re not used to it.
The old quarter was quite charming and I’m glad we did a walk through.
Will be writing more about the trip and including photos and in doing so I’m sure I’ll appreciate the whole adventure a lot more. Travel is always more delightful when I look back on it and revel in the little things.
Sorry to hear about your food poisoning incident. How terrible! I also prefer HCMC than Hanoi. Although the city is charming in its own way, especially because of its Hoan Kiem lake, I find Hanoi so crazily chaotic. It was so difficult and stressful to walk the streets of the Old Quarter, even if you’re not crossing the street. Also, I found the food so much better in HCMC.
Oh gosh…so glad to know it wasn’t only me…thought I may have just got unlucky with the food. The Pho and spring rolls in HCMC were out of this world so I had come with high expectations and was disappointed in Hanoi.