Brendan Gara Photography

viet nam

We flew from Luang Prabang to Hanoi. We weren’t sad to leave Laos and Luang Prabang had become too much of a routine- time to move on. Flying would give us another chance to see the jungle and the jagged peaks. As we lifted off they quickly became obscured by cloud.

Hanoi was covered in clouds, damp and grey, heavy with moisture, and grey and acrid, heavy with motorbike fumes. After a chaotic drive to the old quarter through a million motorbikes we arrived at our hotel for the next few days. We were hungry: street food, pho, something strange seemed called for. Leaving the hotel we walked around the corner and spotted some people sitting down on tiny plastic stools eating. We sat down and a young lady came over and asked us (I think she did) what we wanted. Pointing at the next table seemed the best option, and a few minutes later two steaming bowls of thin, vaguely green broth topped with noodles and something crispy appeared before us. I don’t think we have ever tasted anything so good, so fresh and so lip smackingly unctuous, yet light. I think it cost a dollar.

Sated, we walked down to Hoan Kiem lake and wandered around, taking in the noise, the traffic, the lights and the smog before heading to a bar for a few 333 beers.

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