Travel: Hanoi, Vietnam (October 2015)

We took a quick 3-day / 2-night trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, in October 2015 while Beth’s mom was visiting us in Bangkok. I had heard a lot about Hanoi, and as it seemed everyone either loved it or hated it, I was excited to find out for myself. Vietnam is one of the first countries I’ve ever visited where I had to obtain a visa prior to travel, which I did online through vietnamvisacorp.com. I booked airfare through AirAsia and flew out of Don Muang airport, which is cheap and convenient from our condo in Bangkok. Our accommodations in Hanoi were at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake at the recommendation of a colleague, and it was wonderful: conveniently located, beautiful lakeside views, and helpful staff. One of the first things that struck me about Hanoi was the diverse, almost mismatched architecture. On the way into town from the airport we saw endless clusters of 5+ story, skinny, colorful houses stacked on top of one another. Tucked away between the Vietnamese style houses, there’s many beautiful, well-preserved buildings dating from the French Colonial era, including the Presidential Palace and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. We spent a few hours wandering around looking at interesting buildings, tree-lined streets, and wide-open plazas in the area around Ho Chi Mihn’s Mausoleum — which unfortunately, we were unable to enter due to the short time of our trip. You must arrive there pretty early in the day to get inside for a tour.     The traffic in Hanoi lived up to its reputation as being organized chaos. Motorcycles and cars create a constant soundtrack of honking...