Although I couldn’t get excited about the prospect of certain local specialities (notably dog), the description of recommended restaurants in the Lonely Planet guide meant that I arrived in Hanoi with fairly high expectations that a) we would eat well, and b) you would get to hear about it.
After a 14 hour overnight bus trip from Hue, our first and only comprehensible thought was: coffee, quickly. Fortuitously, the excellent Cafe Nang – which serves coffee and Vietnamese tea and that’s it – was located right next to our hotel, so after checking in, we only had to walk a few short steps to order the best coffee we’ve had on our travels to date. Following this, we tracked down a satisfying breakfast at Gecko Cafe – the standard Vietnamese offering of fresh fruit, omelet, and crunchy baguette.
But from this promising beginning, we somehow lost our mojo and became incapable of sniffing out bloggable food. We really did try. I diligently photographed every meal before we dug in, making Colin wait just…a…bit…longer while I tried several different angles. But even food that exuded potential deliciousness always turned out to be a bit – or a lot – disappointing. As our time in the city progressed, we desperately tried different strategies, going to slightly more expensive restaurants, or trying out places that other tourists recommended.
All to no avail…no that’s not strictly correct, most of the food was nice, but the problem is that nice isn’t really good enough for this blog. If I don’t think about a dish after I’ve eaten it, aren’t able to conjure up its specific flavours and textures well after it should have been digested, aren’t compelled to discuss it with Colin, and don’t scheme about how I could eat it again, then it really doesn’t deserve to feature in this blog.
So, a problem: no decent food material for a post on Hanoi (and no, I didn’t feel compelled to attempt dog just so that I would have something to write about). But I actually don’t have much material on anything in particular because we didn’t do much in Hanoi. We’ve been travelling for six weeks now, so the drive to see and do everything has waned somewhat. We’re far more interested in getting a sense of everyday life and talking to the locals than going to yet another museum. It rained a lot when we were in Hanoi, and we easily filled our time by drinking coffee, chilling out at Gecko Cafe (which we enjoyed for the comfy chairs, ambiance, and affable manager),and wandering the streets of the Old Quarter where we were staying. Despite the traffic and constant bustle, we felt right at home. So, because I just can’t bring myself to not blog about a place we’ve liked, this post simply presents several images of our own little corner of Hanoi.