I hit a low point in our travels once we reached Hanoi, which we travelled to by rail.
After being dropped at the wrong location by our taxi driver, finding our hotel was obstacle number one in Vietnam’s capital.
Traffic was insane. Imagine, literally, a river of scooters flowing through the streets.
Crossing the street was at your own risk, and definitely a risk at that! You just kind of had to go for it… slowly. The general principle is that the traffic will go around you. We are proud to say that we managed to avoid being hit by a scooter through the entire duration of our stay in Vietnam.
Appealing restaurants were a little harder to come by in Hanoi, as were people who spoke good English.
Northern Vietnam appeared less tourist-friendly than their neighbours in the South.
The smells, the chaos, the noise, the dirt, the cluttered sidewalks, the persistent nagging of street vendors… they were starting to get to me… one could say I was nearly “Asia’d out.”
THANKFULLY, I stumbled upon this article by Steve Jackson, who offered some wise & timely words:
“THERE IS NOT ONE SPECIFIC THING WORTH SEEING IN HANOI.
And yet Hanoi itself is unmissable.
Spend your time rushing around to see any of the sites on the above list and you may miss its charms.”
We thought Steve’s words to be very knowing, so we took his advice and did a little research on the Hanoi cafe scene.
After strolling around Hoi Kim Lake, we caught a cyclo who pedalled us to the doorstep of Cong Caphe.
On the walls inside this reputable Hanoi Cafe hang Vietnam war paraphernalia.
On the menu, a variety of coffee beverages, and a limited number of snack items, including pop corn.
Highly recommend the coffee and coconut coffee shake. An interesting flavor combination, but it works! Brendon says his best Vietnamese coffee experience was here as well.
Although the view was somewhat limited, the cafe itself was a great place to sit and think about Hanoi.
Beware that within the small cafe, smoking is permitted, so air quality has the potential to be quite poor. You’ll have to forgive Cong Caphe for the lung damage.
Thanks to Steve Jackson, we adapted a much more relaxed perspective about our time in Hanoi, which challenged me to focus less on ticking things off a list, and instead, look around and appreciate who and what was around me at that moment.