A $15USD cab ride took me from the airport to my hotel. The driver was enthused to get money in U.S. dollars rather than Vietnam Dong. It’s a thing you’ll notice in the major cities. Tricky part was to get change which would be in Vietnamese Dong. But that’s pretty trivial. anyways, my hotel was situated in the south east corner of the Old Quarter. It was just a block away from Hoan Kiem Lake, the home of Turtle Tower. You can read about the stories of The Lake of the Returned Sword. It’s similar to Excalibur but there’s local renditions that bring it a little closer to reality. I do like mythical version so I’ll leave it up to you to find your own local guide and hear their version.
So wandering around my area, I noticed one thing, besides all the tasty looking for shops, it’s busy and crowded. I found myself walking on the streets most of the time since the side walks were made for parking one’s scooter. Pretty nerve racking as vehicles zoom by announcing their existence with a sharp honk. If you wanted a nice peaceful stroll, the Old Quarter isn’t a place for you. I kinda like the life but what got to me was the result, exhaust fumes. They were everywhere. After a half an hour of waddling through the streets, I stumbled back to my hotel like a fish out of water. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but my head was clear.
My friends arrived in the evening and I headed over to their area around West Lake. Much less chaotic. And even though we found myself walking in the streets at times, it wasn’t a constant stream of cars. It almost felt peaceful in comparison. We looked up a place to eat called Dieu’s Cuisine. A place where they pride themselves in making a home cooked meal using only organic ingredients. It’s nestled right up next to the lake and you won’t be able to find it from the main street. It’s actually below in a walk area along the water. It made for a quaint and relaxing dinner.
25 Xuan Dieu
Verdict: I’ll recommend it, but it’s not a place I’ll seek out when I’m back in Hanoi, unless I become organic conscious.