Day 1: Hanoi


Jade Cheatham and Gabrielle Krieger

Entering Vietnam’s capital city

by Jade Cheatham

As we entered Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, the colorful buildings and busy streets are a completely different atmosphere from Tacoma. Getting closer to the heart of the city, the streets get narrower and more hectic with motorcycles. Crossing the street is a skill in itself that takes a couple tries and a lot of confidence to master. The streets are filled with shops selling jewelry, backpacks, pottery, t-shirts of the recent Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un summit, and more. The first place we visited was the Temple of the Jade Mountain, a Confucian temple located on the beautiful Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The perfect way to start our trip.

First impressions and Hoan Kiem Lake

by Gabrielle Krieger

Hanoi on a Saturday night. Sticky air filled our lungs as haze floated over Hoan Kiem Lake. We started by walking through the busy city center that’s wrapped around our hotel, La Beaute de Hanoi, and confusedly made our way across crosswalk-less streets with motorcycles full of children squished between parents, vendors, and business people alike going both ways with no intentions of stopping.

Vietnamese people sporting traditional bamboo hats sat crouched, cutting vegetables, fruits, and meats. We arrived at a section of streets closed off for pedestrians and street vendors. A couple of the vendors sold pig shaped balloons held down on four wheels and controlled by a string leash to rosy cheeked children. The only vehicle on the streets were tiny cars driven by kids dressed as princesses and soldiers, and like their adult counterparts, they stopped for nobody. A large stage blasted music ranging from Vietnamese songs to Bruno Mars, was full of little girls in traditional Vietnamese dresses dancing.

We walked down the red The Huc bridge overlooking the lake to the other side where the Ngoc Son Temple sat. Mangroves extended into the cloudy waters and smoke from incense lit on the Buddhist shrines to commune with ancestors and evoke Buddha traveled through the air. As we continued around the lake, we were soon interrupted by a small crowd of young students eager to practice their English. They pulled out their notepads and asked a series of questions. “What’s your favorite drink?” “What’s your favorite color?” Not long after we headed to the Apricot Hotel for pool side aperitifs on the roof. Much of Hanoi was visible but vaguely veiled by the persistent fog.