I love to travel, though I assume you already know that by now. But what you might not know is how obsessed I am with visiting a new country each year. Yes, I really find pleasure in ticking off countries in the world map. This year, it’s my 47th country: Vietnam.
My intention in this Asian trip was really to visit family and friends in the Philippines. But since our flight stopped in Singapore, Lufthansa’s offer was just too good to pass up (they even called it “Crazy Prices”), obviously we went there first — and so did my family. But before heading to Manila, I figured, heck, why not pass by Vietnam. After all, I’ve never been there.
I’ve read much about this country before going and thought about different itineraries. Since I didn’t want to exhaust myself, and my two-year-old daughter, I decided to visit just one city and it’s surroundings. I debated hard between Saigon and Hanoi, finally lured to the latter by Halong Bay, which in the end we didn’t see. My husband, who nodded in approval that I could take Sophie to this foreign land, gave me clear instructions before leaving not to go to Halong Bay; he was afraid the boat might sink!
In any case, I was still really excited about the trip. But the excitement soon turned into disappointment:
1) Beware of uncooked vegetables and fruits. It’s common sense but during one of our lunches (on the first day to make it worst) organized by the local tour operator, my fork wandered to the green mango salad — must be all those years of green mango deprivation. The restaurant was a decent place, mind you, so I felt confident eating it. Well, you know what happens next!
2) Blame it on the mango salad that we totally missed our next excursions, including visits to the countryside.
3) Hanoi turned out to be too provincial for my taste.
4) There was really not that many sights to see. Okay, you can argue that we missed many excursions, but my heart didn’t exactly flutter from what I saw during the city tour. Having said that, Sophie was really ecstatic about the water puppet show, a traditional Vietnamese art form dating back to the 11th century where puppets dance on water.
5) I think the Vietnamese didn’t like us.
where to stay and eat
Hotel Sofitel Plaza Hanoi — ♥♥♥♥
1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, 10000 Hanoi
* Located just next to Ho Tay lake, and pretty much one of the tallest building in Hanoi, you get to see almost the whole city from the hotel, especially by riding up and down it’s glass-walled elevators. The rooms and bathrooms are spacious, including L’Occitane toiletries. After the intestinal hiccup from one of the local restaurants in town, we ended up eating at the Sofitel every single meal. Fret not, there are several restaurants to choose from serving French, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. My favorite is the Summit Lounge with delicious finger food (and cocktails!) enough to fill an empty stomach. Sophie, on the other hand, much prefers the cafe. She had a feast tasting all the different cakes while listening and dancing next to the pianist.
Until my next post … take care!