My mother was based in Yangon, Myanmar from 2015 to 2017. During my year abroad, I was fortunate enough to be able to make a trip to Southeast Asia and visit her over the holidays. My friend from back home also flew in from the states to join us, and we managed to fit in three countries in three weeks. We arrived in Hanoi in the evening on our first leg of the trip and made our way to the hostel which was located in the old part of town. In the morning we got up early and headed out. I was immediately overwhelmed by all of the traffic once we stepped out the door. There were hundreds of motorbikes and it seemed like there were no driving rules at all! To cross the street, you slowly walk out and try to have faith that everyone will swerve around you and you won't end up on the ground as a pancake. It can be quite an exhilarating experience if you're used to cars stopping for pedestrians like they do in Spain or back in the states. We decided to walk around for a while and explore as much as we could by foot. There were countless vendors selling anything and everything. It was very cool to people watch. Eventually we found a small cafe and I managed to order a sandwich (I love sandwiches) for the first time since leaving the states! It was an exciting moment.
When we woke up the next day it was a bit rainy. Our first stop was a small restaurant for lunch (noodles and soup!) before walking around a bit more. I found some really great postcards which was nice and we all managed to find some jackets for our next stop. Afterwards we visited the Women's Museum which was very interesting. I highly recommend going if you are ever in the area! There was a lot of history and information on different cultures throughout Vietnam. My favorite exhibit explained how women were vital in the efforts of the war. I had no idea that there were battalions made up entirely of women who would carry out sneak attack missions. It was fascinating. Hanoi was a really great city to start our journey out in. While it was incredibly busy and hustling, there was a good sense of history and culture that I appreciated experiencing. Most everyone was very friendly and I loved simply walking around and exploring. It is pretty touristy so you can either be very comfortable while traveling here or make an effort to go out of your comfort zone and experience new things. Entirely up to you!