So walk I did in Hanoi. Apart from eating of course.
I took the short flight from Saigon to Hanoi via Vietjet, a fairly new budget airline. I and the pilot were the only non-locals on the flight which could be the reason why they didn’t bother to translate boarding and in-flight instructions in English. You know that part where the pilot talks to you about weather and altitude and stuff while up there? Guess he didn’t see the point of it either.
Having landed around noon I opted to take the public transport going into the Hoam Kiem District. Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar apparently has minibuses that take their passengers and others to town. I found this guy loading as much people and luggage into a van and figured this was it. It was waayy too packed however so I chose to wait for the next one.
I went to sit by the benches while waiting. About 15 minutes went by when this guy startles me by grabbing my backpack and hoisted it onto his back. Then he motioned for me to follow him. He gave me little choice. I realized he was the driver of the said over packed van when he dropped my bag into someone’s feet and then made some motions I can only interpret as, sit your ass down so we can leave. The “seat” of course was another passenger’s luggage. I had to get out every time someone has to get off and then the driver would motion for me to get back inside with his oh-so-serious I am in charge face.
At some point, he stopped the van, opened the passenger door then looked at me. “Where you go?” “Uhh, Old Quarter…?” He nodded, grabbed my bag, threw it on the sidewalk and then drove away. I was too stunned and mildly amused by it all that I realized I didn’t get a chance to pay the fare. Yikes. To my relief the Old Quarter was just around the corner.
For the next two and a half days I did a lot of walking. A lot.
I did manage to meet an old friend of mine who is a Hanoian herself. We did some catching up over a feast at a popular Bun Cha cafe (No. 1 Hang Manh street near Hoan Kiem lake). This cafe serves them until dinner. Most of the time it is only offered for lunch. Went for a beer and tea afterwards.