I arrived at Hanoi airport and picked up my visa at the airport, only had to wait about 15 minutes for it and i was through customs and immigration. I travelled into Hanoi to witness the mayhem that is the Hanoi traffic chaos. Thousands of motorbikes everywhere coming to a crossroads but somehow working there way around each other. Everybody uses their horn but as so many people are doing it everybody pretty much ignores it.
I stayed in the old quarter which is heavily influenced by the French, roads very narrow but the locals still managed to spill out onto the streets with their goods and chairs. The city certainly has an energy about it and although chaotic in appearance somehow manages to operate efficiently. Renting a motorbike isn’t for the faint hearted though and something i would be doing in a hurry.
The biggest challenge in Hanoi is crossing the street. If you wait for a gap in the traffic then you will be waiting for the day – no question. What you have to do is swallow a brave pill and just start walking, don’t stop, don’t hesitate, don’t turn back. If you keep walking then everybody manages to work their way around you, pause for just a second or two then a motorbike is coming towards you turning left and right trying to figure out which way to avoid you. Thing is just stepping off the pavement into a mass of motorbike actually works !! Its the safest way to cross. I hung around in Hanoi watching the local hectic life for a few days, visited a few museums and monuments, had some of the Ba Hai beer ( cheapest draught beer in the world at 14p a glass !) and watched the locals some more, by far the most interesting thing to do. I had heard about the beautiful scenary up in the hills in Sapa so this was going to be my next stop. Overnight sleeper train to get me there as i had heard about the sleeper bus being just to dangerous. Too many fast drivers, too many bends, too many crashes.