Revisiting Hanoi and venturing out to Vung Tau
Seems like I’m pretty hooked on Thailand and Asia in general. Last year around the same time I was in the area as well but I stuck to Thailand. Each time I tend to visit familiar places but try to add in a new place to discover as well. I had some spare time before my friend met up with me so I flew to Hanoi for a couple of days and went down to Vung Tau as well. Hanoi was nothing new as I’ve visited the place during my year off trip. I did come back to catch up with an old friend of mine which I met via Couchsurfing. I’ve always been talking to Trang on and off and it was nice to see her in person again. She showed me a lot about streetfood in Hanoi and took me to some of the more local oriented placed. I met up with her the first night and yes, once again she took me a typical restaurant. I didn’t know any of the names of the dishes but it was good! The other days I met up with another guy Dino who I’ve talked to online prior to coming here and went sightseeing to some of the popular places around the center. During the day the heat was pretty unbearable so we just took it easy. Trang recommended me a popular place for Banh Mi nearby and I pretty much planned my day just to eat that… At night I met up with Trang and her colleague and went to some kind of chain restaurant/bar area with large screens showing soccer. Pretty cool to see people still hang out and go out like it’s a friday night in the middle of the week. Work seems to be stressful so a lot of people need to let off after a long working day. Or just because it’s more fun to be outside, meeting up with friends, having a drink and good food. Can’t blame them. At night I checked out the nightlife around the center with Dino and some other guys from the hostel. Nothing too wild, but it was nice to sit down at one of the stalls with a cold beer and just watch the people go by. Hanoi hasn’t changed much, still kind dirty and busy with tons of motobikes everywhere. Crossing the road was still super fun and life threatening. And some vendors are still trying to scam you if they know you’re a foreigner. On one night, I was having a drink somewhere and paid with a large note and they came back claiming it was fake or ripped. I immediately recognized that it wasn’t mine and told the lady to piss off with her scam and give me the real change back. You just need to be firm in situations like this and laugh it off afterwards.
As I had 5 days in Vietnam, I didn’t wanna spend them all in a place I’ve already been before. Trang recommended me to go to Vung Tau for a few days as it’s not that far from Hanoi, so I went! Vung Tau in itself is a rather small and quiet beach time. Tons of Vietnamese people travel down for the weekend to chillax at the beach. And that’s what I did as well. I found a rather cheap and rundown hotel nearby the beach. I left Hanoi around 9 in the morning by bus and arrived just a bit before noon at the hotel. I read that there was a copy of Christ the Redeemer in the area and I figured I’d go take a look and check it out. Bad idea to go walking up a hill with barely any shade around noon. That’s just asking for trouble. But yeah, I still went… It was scorching hot and I think I was the only one walking around while all the rest had motorbikes. The cool part about this Jesus was that it insides were hollow and you could up to the shoulders and hang with the man and take some nice pictures. The next stop was the lighthouse on a “nearby” hill. I followed the (Google) map and made my way there. Seriously, sometimes I don’t know why I like to punish my own body like that. I think it took me around 2-3 hours to make it to the lighthouse from the huge Christ statue. At the top of the lighthouse the view was amazing as well and the breeze was a nice welcome. I think my shirt was a bit drenched with sweat. The lighthouse affords a panoramic view of the whole of Vung Tau and is a really interesting site. No ticket is needed, but tourists are required to pay 4,000 VND per visit. I just nodded a “hi” to the ticket guy and got in for free as I looked a lot like a local. After sights I went down the hill and went towards the harbor to watch the setting sun along the promenade where a lot of the youth have met up already to chill and eat food from the nearby stall and moving foodbikes. I tried to walk to a restaurant which Trang recommended me to go to. On the map it seemed a bit for but not impossible. But after 2 hours of walking and looking for the place I called it quits and hailed a cab to get me there. Turns out it was still a 15 minutes drive to the place. The restaurant itself was pretty nice I think, it’s located right at the beach overlooking the water. It seemed like a popular and semi-classy place. It was kinda odd to be eating by myself in a “restaurant”. I was given a table by myself facing the ocean next to a table of 8 next to me. I wouldn’t be lying if I wasn’t feeling a bit pitiful to be eating there by myself, staring into the pitch black water. hahaha… I orded some sweet and sour fish with some rice and a beer. The food was pretty decent, but I think next time I would’ve wanted to come with some friends so I could try more dishes.After dinner I walked towards a nearby coffeeshop that was once again recommended by Trang to see what the view was like. But of course the place was closed already and I just hailed a taxi to the bus station to get tickets to the bus station for the next day back to Hanoi. Planned to go for a swim before checking out and heading back. All in all it was a rather “relaxing” few days in Vietnam. Hanoi does have a different vibe than Thailand and amazing food. Not sure if I’ll be back any time soon, but if I am I’ll definately try to visit more coastal towns on motorbike!