• Chris Edwards

Exploring Old Hanoi 2020

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

Hanoi on Jet lag Time

When we departed for our eighth annual Vanishing Act, we did not have any inclination about how much the world would change - and especially international travel.

Even though it was called COVID-19, 2020 would be the year of disruption, social distance and masks. Before we became stranded in bali, we enjoyed almost three months of travel, starting in Vietnam.

Come along for the ride!

Text from my sister Maureen

Elaine's brother Howard customarily drives us to the VIA Station in Windsor
It is always a mad scramble to get out of town but a great feeling- queuing for train
Arriving at Toronto Union Station - snow on train- yikes!
Florida Good- Vietnam Better!

Our congenial host in Toronto- David Grafstein
Last flight of the day out of town - we prefer night flights for long hauls- this one is 15 hours!

all aboard Eva Air Flight to Taipei

Eva Air is one of the best if you gotta fly cattle class
I don't know about that!
Taipei Taoyuan International Airport
Is it breakfast, lunch or dinner time? Who the hell knows?
What Jet Lag? We be in Hanoi!
Pretty light traffic from the airport to Hanoi Old Town
First glimpse of old town from our way cool hotel
Charming Room- Centraltique - Bespoke French Colonial House $40

Packing like a boss- oh wait- Elaine is the boss!

Worst thing one can do after a long haul flight is to go straight to sleep. We force ourselves to stay awake and get adjusted to local time by walking the streets and eventually sitting down for our first meal in Vietnam. Food being one of the main reasons why we travel. So pull up a tiny red plastic chair and enjoy a plate of noodles and spring rolls.

Xic Lo- a common sight throughout Vietnam
Grab is the Uber of Asia
Rub a Dub Dub- time for some grub! Happy Man!
What could go wrong?
Get yer Pho On.... Blood Sausage Stylee!
Street Food Amazes - and it's only our first day!

Food Obsessed Culture
Vietnamese Students Love to Practice Their English- they are so sweet- OMG!

Organized Chaos!


Breakfast of Champions: Noodles, fried shallots, green and fish sauce $2

Jet lag becomes a normal event after one has experienced numerous international flights- you learn how to roll with it, to accept it is going to take a while to be back to a normal routine so the best thing is to avoid fighting it.

Vietnam is the number two producer of coffee in the world- you know who number one is...

We like to walk everywhere- the weather was warm but not too muggy. January in Hanoi can often be cold - when we were in Vietnam in 2016 it was actually too cold to visit; but this year we hit on almost perfect weather. Outside our door in the old town, it is a very different world then the one we left behind- a portal into a separate place and time.

The view from our breakfast table
Many locals wore masks which prepared them for what was to come
Buildings in the old town are very narrow so they tend to build up
Lots of clothing in the latest fashion
Narrow streets of old town - fruit vendors need some business

Hard to imagine hauling this around town
Locals work incredibly hard and grab a moment's rest whenever possible
We love roaming the local markets

As if out of a movie set
Get out of my photo!
in case one needs a tea set or...
It's all happening on the street
Meat parts

Is this for real?

We walked to the Long Biên Bridge, designed by Gustav Eiffel, built in 1899-1902 by French architects Daydé & Pillé of Paris, opened in 1903. At 2.4 kilometres, it was, at that time, one of the longest bridges in Asia. More than 3,000 Vietnamese took part in the construction.

It was heavily bombarded during Vietnam War due to its critical position (the only bridge at that time across the Red River connecting Hanoi to the main port of Haiphong). The first attack took place in 1967, and the center span of the bridge was felled by an attack by 20 USAF fighter-bombers. CIA reports noted that the severing of the bridge did not appear to have caused as much disruption as had been expected.

Some parts of the original structure remain intact, while large sections have been built later to repair the holes. Only half of the bridge retains its original shape. A project with support and loan from the French government is currently in progress to restore the bridge to its original appearance.

Today trains, mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians use the dilapidated bridge.

It was quite a remarkable place to visit.

We stumbled upon the restaurant where Tony Bourdain ate with Barack Obama
But we dined at another joint as it was a better deal
Vietnamese food did not disappoint
Took a pass of this protein

Getting ready for free live events over the weekend- lucky us!
Vietnamese beer is delicious and incredibly cheap
Little red plastic seats and lots of delicious food

Chinese Temple

DAY 3: Hanoi

Who said men don't ask for directions?

Heading out for breakfast- pass on the fresh chicken

Locally famous Bahn Mi 25 earns its reputation as one of the best in town

Pro Tip- instead of waiting in line we dined at their resto across the street

Just another day touring old town Hanoi

Preparing for TET (Chinese New Year) Festivities

Loving Hanoi- like Bangkok 35 years ago
happy travellers

Famous part of Hanoi where the railroad runs down a narrow path between the buildings

Tourists flock to railroad street supposedly off limits- lol

Government closed down the cafes as it was getting crazy with all the farangs taking selfies

We missed the train but had a fun time as this is a most unusual location

cool mural

life goes on and on...

waiting for a train

Hanoi is that strange mix of old and new

at the notorious Hanoi Hilton jail

The French were brutal to the locals

Can't even imagine what it was like

cool museum celebrating role of women in Vietnam's history

random temple gate along the sidewalk

food truck

Lunch Break

Friday Night

First We Eat...then everything else

Free Concert By the Lake Packs Them In

A Helping Hand

So We Bought A Selfie Stick...OMG!

Tourist Stuff

We spent the next couple days enjoying the pleasures of Hanoi

Owner of Bahn Mi 25- great guy- loads of energy

Love these carvings but no room in our bag


Everywhere is Getting Set for Tet

For the ancestors

Cutest Piggy Banks Ever

A Visit With Uncle Ho

Once In A While You Capture A Moment

There Are Numerous War Museums in Vietnam

Made in America Bombs

To The Victors Go The Spoils

War Doesn't Decide Who Is Right- But Who Is Left

Cannon Fodder

Faded French Colonial

At The Gates

Rolling Along

New Hat, New Shirt,,,Stylin'

Homemade noodle factory


Our last day in Hanoi was spent walking around the lake and eating. Shocker I know...

Start the day with an egg coffee.

For Elaine a mani pedi at one of the many salons in Old Town.
You look so pretty!

A bowl of noodles lights up the day

French Embassy set up a cultural display featuring one of our favourite book stores.

Your chariot awaits,

French culture on display.

Goes well with French Colonialism.

More Hanoi students practicing their English on us.

Famous Bun Cha noodle shop; Mama doesn't seem very happy today.

Second Empire.

Cool old clock.

How much is that Pate in the window?

Elaine jumping for joy- we are off to the Royal City of Hue tomorrow...

Hanoi - that's a wrap. One of our new favourite places; we can't wait to come back.

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