Let’s continue day 2 of my Hanoi travelogue. Day 2 is a day full of walking, eating, eating, walking and more eating. Our mission is to visit the south of Hoàn Kiếm Lake and the French Quarter with lots of eating in between.
When I booked our room at Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy, the package came with a buffet breakfast. At that time, I thought it would be a waste because we planned to have our breakfast outside every day.
Fast forward to our first morning in Hanoi, we thought we’ll check out the buffet spread on level 8 and because the food looked so inviting, we decided to have a light breakfast there.
Lots of fresh fruits, real fruit juices, local food and as well as salad, cheese and ham.
Pure watermelon juice to wash down a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I like that they provide guests with straws made from rice (cơm). Yay to sustainability.
Guess what happened after that? We forgo our planned breakfast at Xôi Yến because we have turned our light buffet breakfast into a heavy one. Hahaha
After our breakfast, we head out to visit the charming French Quarter which is located on the south of Hoàn Kiếm Lake. First, we stopped by Hoàn Kiếm Lake which is just 2 minutes walk from our hotel. I was already loving the vibe on the street.
Mobile street vendor while on the way to Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
I looked forward to seeing Cầu Thê Húc (The Huc Bridge aka the red bridge) which connects the mainland to Đền Ngọc Sơn (Ngoc Son Temple or Temple of the Jade Mountain) which is situated on an islet in Hoàn Kiếm Lake (north).
The red bridge certainly did not disappoint and it oozes a bit of ala Kyoto.
We skipped Đền Ngọc Sơn because
we’re too stingy to pay for the admission fee it’s not in our agenda.
Apparently, I wore the wrong outfit because as we neared the bridge, the rushing winds lifted up my short flowy dress several times. Thank God I was able to hide in front of the stone railing (pictured above). We merely solved this issue by tying rubber bands at two ends of the skirt. It makes the dress even shorter actually, but thank God the wind dwindled as we continued towards the south. I ditched the rubber band as fast as I possibly could. By the by, I always wore shorts underneath my dress. So it’s not ‘really’ free show la but still free show on the eyes of many.
There are many Delonix Regia Ray trees here. This is a giant one. Its yellowed leaves add colors to the lake like in the photo below (bottom left and right).
There are lots of trees, bushes and seats around the lake, making the walk extremely pleasant.
Not long after my sister needed a toilet break, and we quickly found one at Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The toilets were dirty and very smelly, but we are thankful for them.
Next stop is Lý Thái Tổ statue. To get there we had to cross a busy road. I knew by reading online and from friend’s encounter, one just has to cross the road at a steady pace and the motor drivers will know how to navigate around you. But we hesitated a bit when it comes to real-life situation, and that got one motorcyclist shaking his bike left and right several times while riding towards us. Oops sorry! We eventually got the tempo right and crossing the road was a breeze throughout our trip. Despite disliking the traffic jam in my own country, I kinda love the chaoticness of Hanoi.
The bronze statue of Lý Thái Tổ is located near the lake. Lý Thái Tổ was the founder of Lý dynasty in Vietnam. Then we passed by the State Bank of Vietnam but no photo here as my camera couldn’t capture the whole building (I was using a tight camera lens). It functions like our Bank Negara.
We then arrived at the State Guest House or also known as Tonkin Palace as it used to be the residential palace of the Tonkin Governor. This French Colonial building oozes charming pale yellow paint and stunning architecture which btw you would have to see it yourself.
A Vietnamese flag dancing happily at the State Guest House (Tonkin Palace).
We continued walking south and arrived at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. Two vintage Citroen Traction Avant cars are parked outside the hotel and from what I read, they are in use.
This is what the street sign post in Hanoi looks like. The logo on the top left is the official seal of Hanoi. The Phố certainly looks like it means the famous rice noodles soup. But guess what? Vietnamese noodles soup is spelled as Phở. This Phố means street and Đinh Lễ is the street name.
After passing Đinh Lễ street, we saw Kem Tràng Tiền which sells traditional ice-cream with interesting flavors. It’s a favorite hang out spot for the locals and tourist alike. Click the link to read what ice-cream flavor we sampled and my review.
Lovely shop houses in the French Quarter.
Hanoi Opera House which we viewed from across the roundabout. We didn’t go near it. Hope to watch a play there in the future.
We’re supposed to have brunch at Bánh Xèo Sáu Phước which is 7 minutes away behind the Hanoi Opera House but we cancelled it because I could sense a slight sore throat coming. Then, we stopped at the post office as my sister wants to send a letter home. I’ve officially stopped sending letter and postcards home starting from this trip. While the experience visiting the local post office and sending snail mail home is sweet and interesting, I couldn’t help but noticed the amount of travel snail mail I’ve accumulated throughout the years. I’m in the midst of decluttering and try not to accumulate more stuff.
Although we have said not to stop by Pable Cheesetart but we paid them a visit anyway because we needed a place to cool down. Lame excuse? No lah, real excuse. Haha Do click the link and check out Pablo’s chic deco.
Then it was a very long 30 minutes walk to our lunch place at Cha Ca Phan. We had chả cá Lã Vọng (in English: turmeric grilled fish with dill) which is a Hanoian cuisine. After lunch, we visited Maison Marou. It’s a heaven for chocolate lover and we spent quite a while here just chillaxing while enjoying our cuppa signature Marou chocolate and cake. Remember to visit the links to read our experiences.
On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at Coconut Juice for a cup of avocado smoothie @ 45,000 VND (~RM8.40). The weather was really hot and made us very thirsty. But OMG, the smoothie was [email protected] SWEET!!! I’m not sure what kind of sugar they used but it made the avocado smoothie tasted very processed even though I know they use real avocado in it.
This is the scene on the pathway at Hoàn Kiếm Lake in the afternoon (~3.30pm) while walking back to our hotel. We saw several workers watering the plants with a very long hose.
This is Turtle Tower (Tháp Rùa) on an islet at the south of the lake.
We also took the opportunity to shelter from the sun under the canopy of trees on one of these seats while enjoying the cool breeze and torturing ourselves with the high sugar avocado smoothie. LOL
I don’t mind sitting here by the lake all day doing nothing!
Anyway, we didn’t go back to the hotel. We stopped at Vinmart again to shop for food souvenirs such as dried noodles like flat rice noodles and rice vermicelli, instant noodles (my sis), bánh chả, bánh pía, spring roll paper, Ottogi Korean seaweed (it was very affordable alright!) and avocados as shown below.
Avocados galore at Vinmart. This photo doesn’t do the size of the avocado justice. It’s large yo! In the receipt, it’s printed as bơ đặc biệt which means ‘special avocado’ that is if the online translator got it right. It’s 72,900 VND/kg (~RM13.60/kg). If I’m not mistaken this is Booth avocado, Booth 7 avocado to be precised. We bought three pieces @ ~130,000 VND (~RM24). That’s about RM8/piece.
We also stopped at Circle K but nothing interests us. We went back to the hotel to rest and came out again at 6pm+ for dinner. We had sticky rice dinner at Xôi Yến which we skipped this morning. So happy to finally try out this local cuisine. After that, we stopped at Cafe Giảng for our first ever egg coffee experience. Please check out both of the reviews at their respective links.
Back at the hotel, we end our eating feast with Marou brownie which we bought at Maison Marou before calling it a night.
That’s all for day 2. Stay tuned for day 3 and day 4 (last day) which I’ll combined into a post.