We arrived in Hanoi late Sunday night, so we’ve had the chance to spend two full days (Monday and Tuesday) here before we set out on a side trip to Halong Bay tomorrow morning. It’s been somewhat strange for me to be here – in Vietnam. I mean – growing up, the Vietnam war loomed large to me. As Doug pointed out to me, all of the military things he played with as a kid was Vietnam era stuff. For us (and for my parents’ generation), it was THE war. The thought of ever visiting Vietnam, way back when, never crossed my mind; it was a communist country and not exactly open to visitors from the U.S.
Yet here we are. And having spent a few days here now, I’m very glad that we have had the chance to visit Hanoi. We’ve had a wonderful time so far (we return from Halong Bay on Friday afternoon and have a few more days here). I don’t have a ton of time to reflect on what we’ve done, but I will say that the city is amazing. Even though we’ve visited so many cities here in Asia while we’ve been here, Hanoi is truly unique. It’s frenetic:
Crossing a street in Shanghai is like a walk in the park compared to crossing a street here. We’ve taken to describing our street crossing here as Frogger-ing.
Quin and Berkley stuck on the other side of the street; luckily, they Frogger-ed their way back to us
But at the same time, the city is incredibly laid back. Whenever we get weary, there are cafes everywhere, serving our new favorite drink – coffee and condensed sweetened milk served over ice.
Sometimes, even the boys need something to get them going too
We’ve spent time wandering the Old Quarter, taking it all in,
And visited random temples
and the Temple of Literature, the first national university in Vietnam.
Probably the biggest hit was this afternoon when we stumbled across the Citadel, while trying to kill time before the Army Museum opened after lunch.
Generally speaking, military museums are big hits in this family, given that the boys love to pretend to play war, and Doug and I love to take in the history. In this case, the Army Museum was even more fascinating as it allowed us to read about the war from the perspective of the Vietnamese.
A sculpture at the Army Museum made from the wreckage of downed French and American planes
Above and below - why the boys love military museums
All in all, it’s been a very enjoyable two days; we’re looking forward to our cruise though Halong Bay along with spending a bit more time in Hanoi this weekend to further explore all this city has to offer and to further sample the fabulous local cuisine.