Fleets of scooters and motorcycles with blaring horns charge the streets alongside sidewalks brimmed with shops and tiny plastic chairs and tables serving as restaurant “patios.” This is Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the living, breathing, heart of the city. Overwhelming to all senses, Hanoi is especially a “cacophony of smells” as Grace put it best. Every inhale presents you with a new discovery. Curbside grills and spices one moment, gasoline and smog the next, and if you dare to breathe again, you might just be rescued by fresh flowers and incense.
The capital of Vietnam marked the beginning of our journey, and with that was a very immediate and immersive introduction to Vietnamese culture. Although we stayed in an area that was frequented by many tourists and backpackers, we walked the streets and dined alongside the locals, giving us some great insight as how to blend in best. Hanoi is a proper city, the type that roughs you up a little bit before showing you its soft side, but the embracing kindness of the people there had us falling in love with this country right from the start.Read More