Ah Hanoi, it was our final stop of the motorbike journey that started in Ho Chi Minh and spanned some 2,000km across the country.
Among the chaos of desperately trying to sell our bikes and each form our own plans of what to do next, we took some time to go on the hostel’s free walking tour around the old quarter.
We started at the Neo-Gothic church of St Joseph’s Cathedral built in 1886, locally known as “Nhà Thờ Lớn”.
Then we may our way to the Hoàn Kiếm Lake, in the middle of which is a small island that houses a temple, known as Tháp Rùa – the Turtle Tower (due to various legends surrounding it).
Also located on the edge of the lake is the “Temple of the Jade Mountain”, which we got to explore further. It’s Hanoi’s most visited temple and was bustling with a steady stream of people; hawkers reached out to sell you lemonade and passionfruit juice.
After the temple, we wandered down various side streets with our guide, and through local markets, stopping occasionally to grab a snack from a street vendor such as rice in banana leaves.
We wandered down alleyways adorned with colourful graffiti and passed the infamous Obama’s Restaurant on our way to the Dong Xuan indoor market
The market did little to interest me, but perhaps I’ve just seen one too many markets out here for them to excite me!
Our guide lead us through rows of dried herbs and mushrooms and various plastic knick knacks, down a shopping street lined with colourful clothes
Through a series of shops and then behind one selling colourful clothes, we found ourselves in a courtyard and greeted by a rather adorable fat ginger cat
There were flowers and song birds in little cages; we were lead up a winding metal staircase surrounded by house plants and mirrors
and this is where we sat on a rooftop terrace to enjoy an amazing egg coffee, something of a specialty in Hanoi…
and so concluded our free walking tour. We made our way back to the hostel, passing people sitting on the street at small stalls, mounds of discarded sunflower seeds at their feet
Apparently, that’s a thing here! Usually accompanied by an iced tea.