We get a taxi to our Hanoi hotel, it's 6pm and its been a long day of traveling. I am ready to starfish on my bed. We pull up. The hotel looks vastly different from the pictures on the internet. We get to our room and I sigh, 'roughing it Vietnam style'.
We have nicknamed it ‘the bunker’ a small almost windowless room. The toilet smells of vomit, the aircon barely works and I spot a cockroach eyeballing me from the corner. I flop onto the bed in defeat and just about bruise my tailbone - the bed is as hard as a Southern Man's character.
Desperate for something cold and refreshing, (like a cider) we head out to find a dairy. HOLY SMOKES, we open the door and are overwhelmed by the heat, the noise, the traffic and the people. It's so hot we immediately start to sweat. Like everywhere - under our eyes, behind our ears, and between our toes. We are hungry, disorientated, and are struggling with the money conversion when this lady jumps out at us. "Bananas," she hums. I say, "yes, how much?" “150,000 dong," she chirps. We space out while we try to convert, and the lady grabs the money from James's hand. We walk away with our bananas still trying to work out how much they cost us. “$10 dollars NZ” James erupts!!!!! “WHAT THE HELL”. “We just got done”. Most expensive bananas we have ever bought- they better taste good.
We did a cultural tour of the prison and learnt a bit about the French occupation and visited some other landmarks but to be honest, we have spent most of our time desperate for air con. This is crazy mad for us Invercargill peeps. After trudging along in the heat all morning, the kids look like sucked jubes and my brain function has gone down to a minimum, I am struggling to make simple decisions like shall I have a coffee or not. We scour the internet for things to do in Hanoi with kids. We find an air-conditioned mall with a water park- YUS!
Hanoi has been interesting for us, the words that come to mind are, busy, noisy, overwhelming and hot, did I say hot?
A highlight for me in this town is the people watching, from the kid chopping fish up with a machete on the sidewalk to the old men playing chess and drinking on their stools. There is a real sense of community all around, the elderly holding the babies and families working their business's together. The sidewalks are a hum with life diverse, colourful and vastly different from what I know. Even though I felt overwhelmed in Hanoi, I have a new appreciation of my life, my world and I feel lucky.