August 29, 2014

Hanoi, Vietnam: The Layover Tour pt. 2

Xin Chao! We took a break from our Hanoi city tour and had lunch at this restaurant called the Blue Butterfly. Our meals were already paid since it was part of the deal we got at Groupon. At this point, we've already made friends with our tour mates.

Lunch time!
After our little siesta, we boarded the van and headed out to our next destination: The Temple of Literature

It was built in 1070 AD and has withstood different wars and dynasties. It is said that this was patterned to the original birthplace of Confucius and is also the first National University of Vietnam.

Hello, Confucius :)
This ancient sanctuary consists of tablets and structures that are meant to show tourists a deeper understanding of Hanoi's culture and tradition.

Touch the yellow light for good luck!

Don't care. Just jump!
After almost 2 hours of exploring the whole complex, we were so thirsty that the Texan ate 2 ice cream popsicles in less than 10 minutes. 

Our last stop was at the Ngoc Son Pagoda, which can be found at the Hoan Kiem Lake. The photo below shows the sacred tortoise that defeated the Mongols by releasing a huge sword from it's mouth. He promised Le Loi that he would return the sword upon victory. Thus, the solitary temple was built beside the lake as a tribute to the sacred tortoise.

That is one huge turtle
The godfather of all ninja turtles
The place was getting crowded as the tour was almost done. Before the day ended, we wouldn't let this pass without a jump shot with the group.

The fun, diverse, and jump shot pros that was our group :)

Hardcore Swan Lake in the middle of the bridge with Anya!
There are 10 of us in this tour. (2 Filipinos, 1 Japanese, 2 Chinese, 3 Americans, 1 Russian, and 1 Vietnamese). At first, we were all strangers. But that quickly disappeared when we all decided to make this tour out of the ordinary.

After the tour, Kai and I were on our own. Kai decided to treat her sprained ankle but still chose to explore the streets of the old quarters. Every street stall was packed until we found this spot to finally try Hanoi's Bia Hoi. For 5,000 VnD = 10 pesos, this lady served us freshly brewed mystery beer. Due to language barrier, we couldn't understand what it was called so we just drank it anyway.

We had 2 rounds and ordered a dumpling for only 50,000 VnD = 100 Pesos. Just when we thought that after finishing all of these, we would visit the Hoan Kiem Lake, we suddenly realized that the beer was too strong, and we're already drunk. It was already dark and our map was not helping us. We asked around for directions but couldn't understand much of the language. In the end, we were just going around in circles and realized that the Lake was just a block away from us.

Hoan Kiem Lake by night
Our flight was at 9pm and it was already 6:30pm. Kai and I braved our way to find our hotel and crossed streets on fire. It was rush hour.

Like a boss
Xin Chao, Hanoi
We stumbled across flea markets and shady streets, but in the end, we found our hotel. Since I haven't tried their famous Bun Cha (Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad), one of the hotel's staff, found a store that was still open and got me an order. (What a great guy!)

Bun Cha = 60 pesos
Our airport transfer arrived and brought us to the airport on time. 

And just like that, the whole trip was over. As soon as we landed in Manila, we felt like every bit of energy has left our body. Plus, we had a bad headache no thanks to the mystery beer. 

It's really fun when you visit a foreign place. Every stranger you meet has a different story to tell. And, these stories they share become a part of your experience. All of these experiences we've gained, friends we've made, and mishaps we've conquered, gave us more reasons to book more flights whenever there's a seat sale. Thank you, Vietnam. I may have enjoyed the two sides of your story, but I barely scratched the surface. 4 days wasn't enough so expect me to come back for more. :)