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Controlled Chaos - our first day in Vietnam
Hanoi was a great introduction to Vietnam for us and for our ‘kid'. It is a little chaotic by european standards but its not the big hustle and bustle of a city the Ho Chi Minh is (the latter can be a little overwhelming and mesmerising) but it was the perfect stepping stone into this new land - controlled chaos as i like to say. Little did we know that this seemly chaotic country was going to provide an amazing family travel experience.
We choose to stay in a home stay during our stay in Hanoi and as much as possible throughout or whole 3 week stay in the country. After a bit of searching on the net we came across which seemed very well rated and typical homestay : The Hanoi Family Homestay
Price wise it was in the lower end of the market, more backpacker type of accommodation, but once it was clean thats all that was important as really on this trip the priority was to meet and chat with the locals and to film our experiences for our video series project. The contact with Perfume on the internet was rapid and we learnt that they had 2 kids with similar ages to the Kid Trotter, so it was perfect ! After getting acquainted with Perfume, resting and getting settled in we had organised a meeting with a local student to walk around the old town.
A Free tour guide ??
What better that do visit the market and local sights with a local ‘expert’ and we were not disappointed. We had obviously organised the meeting/tour with Hanoi Free Tour Guides before getting to the country . As the name suggests the Tour is free, all you have to do is to feed your guide ! Your guide obviously benefits from a few hours of english conversation. We were spoilt with our guide (Le Anh) who bent over backwards with our filming requests. I must say that the tour was very much stop-start as we needed certain angles and shots. Enya loved her of course and Le Anh who had never used a kick scooter really enjoyed the experience , even if the beginning was a little nervous. Hanoi Old Quarter Perfumes homestay is right in the old quarter so we were perfectly positioned for our walk. Just a short scoot/walk and we were at the market.
Greeted by fruit vendors with their typical cone shaped hats and big smiles ( i thought they were smiling at me but i later found that it was the 5 year old kid behind me that was stealing all my limelight). Anyhow as i do love fruit we had some dragon fruit cut and prepared on the spot for a little late breakfast. Very refreshing i must say. Its not the most tasty of fruits- but its the subtle consistency which is enjoyable. You could call it a white kiwi by all accounts. On the way into the dry market we did pass my some live turtles that were caged, their shells removed in direct sunshine and ready to be bought and cooked. It was sad to see such a lovely animal treated in this way. However a part of travel is to observe and accept other cultures. It did raise ethnical questions for us, but not necessarily aimed at the locals and their treatment of turtles but in general. Who are we to criticise when we have mass production slaughter houses back home preparing our meats addictions.
The Kid starts to get noticed !
The dry market had alot fewer ethical questions flying at us. There were mainly grains and roots in their dried state in here. It was a maze of highly stacked transparent bags filled with dried goodness. As we were there pretty late (about 10am) it was very quite and there were many ladies sitting around their stalls, obviously resting from an early morning. When they saw The Kid Trotter on her scooter they perked up and instantly approached her in a playful manner. Cameras appeared and an impromptu hair dress appeared to platt her hair. Little did we know it before but we were just about to realise that Enya was going to attract alot of attention in Vietnam. Apparently it is the light white irish skin that was the attraction - i.e. the european look. Obviously her age played a big part and her seemingly innocent demeanour !! For the rest of the trip she would be photographed a few thousand times and very quickly she adjusted from the initial amazement to full on acceptance or even showfullness. See episode one for this scene (EP 1 - Visiting the market and old town in Hanoi)
Crossing the street.
This was a lesson to be learnt and a skill to be honed. If you stand and wait for a gap in traffic in Hanoi you may be waiting for hours. Baiscally forget everything you learnt as a child and road safety : things like look both ways, wait for the traffic to stop, etc If you adhere to these rules you will spend your trip outside your hotel/accommodation. It seems like a very risky art form but its very simple you have to walk slowly – very slowly – and without appearing to look for traffic. Just walk straight and stead with no sudden movements and the traffic will adjust thier trajectory....it does seem crazy i agree but check our this episode : EP 1 - Visiting the market and old town in Hanoi
The water muppet show
The water muppet show is probably the most touristy thing you can do in the city but we did indulge. It was about the 8pm show we went to see so after a long day we were getting tired. The Kid Trotter was mesmerised for the whole show. Us parents were pretty impressed also even if my attention did begin to wander towards the end. its pretty important to understand the history of Hanoi & Vietnam as the show really retraces much of this. Definitely a good idea to take your historical trip with Le Ang or one of her friends before the muppet show or else it will be only the aesthetics you will be looking at and not the meaning behind.
[details of temples and long bien bridge coming soon]
EP 1 - Visiting the market and old town in Hanoi
In this first episode of The Kid Trotter, Enya discovers Hanoi with a local vietnamese student. She learns to cross the crazy roads amongst the millions of motorbikes before diving into a local market to see how the local people do their shopping. You will also learn why the Vietnamese dance in temples and visit the famous water puppet theatre .