Vietnam is a tall, narrow, s-shaped country, and the climate varies quite a bit throughout. In the north, there are four separate seasons, while in the tropical south, the temperature by varies just three degrees year-round. Hanoi, being in northern Vietnam, was actually pretty chilly while we were visiting. The temperatures would reach a high in the low 60s or high 50s, but high humidity made this feel colder than it was.
Our hosts, Jeff and Kate Caster, were incredibly generous and fun to be with. We had a wonderful and entertaining two weeks spending time with them, making friends, indulging in red wine, and enjoying the best room of our trip in their beautiful French Colonial-style house.
The neighborhood where they live is known as Tay Ho, or West Lake, and we spent one of the days wandering around the rather large lake, stopping at numerous Bia Hois along the way to cut the cold with a crisp Saigon beer.
Walking around the streets and exploring on foot provided a nice glimpse of life in Vietnam’s capital city. We spent a few days taxying to different neighborhoods and then walking along narrow streets as the afternoon light turned golden.
Traffic, even by the southeast Asian standards we’ve grown accustomed to, was rather insane. The philosophy here is to cross as quickly yet authoritatively as possible, and avoid the motorbikes!
Bun Cha, a signature northern Vietnamese dish, was a Hanoi specialty that we enjoyed tremendously. It’s made up of chargrilled pork patties with a sweet-savory broth, white rice noodles, and fried spring rolls that are eaten wrapped in an enormous amount of crunchy mixed greens.
The time we spent exploring Hanoi was delicious and relaxing, and the cloudy, cool, misty days provided a cozy change of pace from steamy Indonesia.