The reason why I came to Hanoi? Exactly lies to this beautiful woman.
Me and Holly
I knew her since a year ago when I planned to visit Hanoi with my ex boyfriend. We were talking in Facebook then Skype, then What’s App. Lots of common interest between me and her made us so easily become a friend. Even later, she helped me a lot through my hard times and gave her ears to listen to my sorrow.
That day finally arrived! I really amazed with how friendship can be built from internet as well from a real life. It’s probably sound so fake for some people, but for me, it just feel like you talk with them in real life – maybe because I also like to write, so sometimes, I can be honest on my writing rather than speaking face to face 😛 When I met Holly in Hanoi, it feels like meeting with an old friend rather than meeting with someone I just met for the first time.
She’s adorable and I can’t wait to meet her in her hometown. Seeing how she lives was another thing I wanna see. I wanna know her daily life, her family and her lovely dog, Bella which usual I only saw through Facebook. But I have to wait for another day to meet her since I need to go to Lao Cai – Sapa, right after I arrived in Hanoi.
I stayed in Hanoi Backpacker Hostels for two days. It’s under on the same group as Hue Backpacker Hostels, but I didn’t stay in their place when I was in Hue. They have 2 Hostels in Hanoi, I chose one in the Old Quarter because Holly’s house just 5 minutes walking from the Hostels. Hanoi was my last destination of my 11 days trip in Vietnam, before I returned to Ho Chi Minh then fly to Singapore. I waited for Holly to come while trying a computer with free internet in the lobby, until a soft voice called my name. I didn’t notice it until a western guy who sat next to me gave a sign about someone that looking for me. I turned my head and there she was, a very pretty lady with red sexy dress together with her dog, a cute brown puddle, Bella.
Suddenly I hugged her and we were so happy because we finally met. Yes true, there was really so rare to build a friendship based on internet, and I can call one of the true friendship I found from internet is with her. Holly and Bella immediately grabbed everybody attention in the lobby. A couple greet us and said whether it’s ok for them to hug and lifted Bella. Bella was so cute and silent, not barking at all and seem to be so quiet while lifted from one hands to another. After one crazy – screaming – moments – between – girls – finished, we walked to Holly’s house to put Bella home before we went to Party. This time, girls were going to enjoy the night! Yayyyy!!
As I guess, Holly really a sweet girl. She drove me away from Hostels to a club named Hair of the Dog – yeah, what a name – and we spent the whole night talking and driving around the city. Well, no one on the road at that evening since it can’t counted as night anymore but early morning. We talked and talked and I was so amazed by how Holly drove her motorbike. With that dress, she can easily going here and there while talking to me and turn left or right wherever she wanted it. One of my best night was lying there – when we hung out and laugh a lot with our stories and life. The weather in Hanoi is pretty cool when I was there. Especially when we were crossing the lake. It’s so damn cold and I wish I wore a long sleeve shirt or jacket rather than a tank top. That’s why in Hanoi, people tend to be whiter than people in Saigon, cause they both like two opposite area – Saigon can be so terrible hot and Hanoi can be so terrible cold. After tired with driving me around the city, we went to another club, a salsa time – and this time, Holly immediately took off her shoes and dance salsa in the center. She looked so happy and I think I should call her Happy Panda rather than Holly Panda 😛
In the morning, I tried to recognized my place when I opened my eyes. I slept in a female dorm, my first time experience to real sleep in a female dorm with some another travelers. When I was in Prague, I had be so lucky cause I booked for a dorm but I got an empty dorm room. Now, another 9 woman slept together with me. I like this Hostels. Help me to gain my trust to a place named Dorms. It’s not that bad as how people explain it. Actually, it’s cool and I love it. The bed is so clean, bathroom is simple and acceptable. They have also locker and your own night lamp to read.
The Female Dorm of Hanoi Hostels Backpackers
This afternoon, when I tried to clean up my stuff and take out some clothes from my bag, a Belgium girl just gave me a Sweet Wafel and made a conversation. My imagination about how arrogant some traveler meet on the way just disappeared. And now, when I woke up from my short sleep – a lady from LA, USA, just said hi to me and told me how she already went to some cities in Vietnam. That’s a good thing about staying in dorms, you can meet up with people and you can exchange a story. Another 2 Dutchie girls also told me about how their 6 weeks trip going on – oh man, the more I’m hanging out with western, the more I feel envy and jealous with how they can get a very long trip so easily. 18 days per year of days off for me already considered as lucky comparing to others people. So I couldn’t complain.
Holly already waited for me in the lobby because we planned to take a breakfast. This time, she eager to bring me to a favorite street food in Hanoi. I shook my head and agree to anything she chose for me. And yes, that was totally crazy. So many people let themselves to stand and wait on the line for getting the food. We were lucky cause we had chairs to seat. The food is so delicious, even their snack is same with what we have in Indonesia, but we don’t put that together in a noodle. Only eat it alone with chilli sauce.
We call it in Indonesia as “Cakwe”
Right after breakfast, Holly needs to learn her GMAT test, she so unfortunate because had to re-test until 3 times without her fault. When she learned the English, I went to see the famous Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. She dropped me on the gate and we planned to meet again in another few hours.
Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh is a very famous place in Hanoi and you can’t missed it. In this place, lies the body of Ho Chi Minh. It’s free. And to get there, you should come in early morning. So many people queue on the line to see Ho Chi Minh’s corpse. It’s closed at 11 pm and you can’t bring your food, beverages, camera and your phone inside of the building. They provide you a saving room which is also for free. So many guards that make you to stay on the line. Don’t do something that make them feel annoy or make you get arrested. Just behave like a decent citizen and you will be fine. My sister ever told me, in Hanoi, you can’t just take a picture of the army. It’s kind of prohibited.
I enjoyed myself brought by them on a line like a robot – I feel a fantastic feeling for expecting seeing something so sacred. When we finally able to go inside of the building, it’s only a quick view of the body of Ho Chi Minh. They put him on the glasses box, and you only get one turn to see him while you still do the long walk – except if you want to go back on the line and queue again. It was too short but enough to satisfy my curiosity. The body of Ho Chi Minh was so white and alone. I feel respect tho him as a great man who adored by so many people, not only Vietnamese.
After a bit confusion of where I was, finally Holly can found me and picked me up. This time, we will go to her friend’s wedding. I was so excited since it’s my first time attending the Vietnamese wedding. The wedding held in a yard of a school and there was so many table already when we arrived. The bride and groom just busy accepting people congratulations and we were seating together with Holly’s friend. So many food on the table – I wasn’t sure we can finish it, but immediately those bunch of meals come safely to our belly.
After the wedding, we spent a time to drank a very delicious coffee in Hanoi. It was exactly lying in front of the famous, St. Joseph Cathedral. The coffee indeed so cheap – but the taste felt like heaven! And so strong! I want to take another one, but I think my stomach will not allow me to give another shoot. So I just satisfy enough to drank 1 glass of it.
St. Joseph Cathedral
The time is still long, I decided to walk around Hanoi – literally walk, because I love to walk and walking can make me able to see the town in details, watch how people live and sometimes, being lost can help me to beat my fears being in an unknown place and gain more confidence. So I walked slowly and reaching Hoa Lo Prison.
The most terrible thing I saw in Hanoi or Vietnam generally, how they put their electricity cable. It’s so damn disorganized and actually dangerous for people who lives around. I don’t understand why they are ok with this kind of electricity management. But it was freaked me out.
It freaked me out to see their cable electricity
I continued my walk to the Temple of Literature. You can guess from it’s name how this building dedicated for knowledge matters. When I was there, I can see many of turtle statues, which I think there was a connection with knowledge. Maybe they were believe the turtle had an important roles on ones knowledge and brain. This Temple of Literature actually built on 1070 – it is the first University in Vietnam, in the era where Confucius still alive. When I wandered inside the Temple, I can find the store which sold some of charms for good luck to passing the exams.
The sun almost set down so I prefer to returned to my Hostels when I realized my feet no longer able to keep walking. In the evening, me and Holly took Bella walking and visited her friends in Hoan Kiem lake. They have this cool habit to bring their dogs to the lake so their dogs can meet with other dogs as well and they can play together.
I wish, Jakarta also has that kind of activity. People here in Jakarta kind of scare to dogs – and tend to stone them or beat them if they see wild dogs. So terrible!! When I returned home and meet with my dog, I told her how I met so many of her Vietnam friends on the lake and she probably will be happy to be there. She only looked at me with her faithfulness eyes, tried to understand what I’m talking about before she lick me to show how happy she is with me came home.
Anyway, I didn’t see much in Hanoi. After few days hop to some cities in Vietnam, I kind of tired and decided to just enjoying my time there rather than be hurry from one place to another. I even didn’t take pictures on the red bridge that I wanna see most. But it’s okay, it can be my other reason to go to Hanoi next time. Right?