Today was our first day in Hanoi and our last day on our own before the rest of our group gets here for our next, awesome, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious CPG VEGAN TRIP — this one to Northern Vietnam. The weather is cool, breezy, and sunny, which suits my California temperament. I confess…I can’t help comparing Hanoi to Bangkok, another southeast Asian city I recently visited, and (though it’s too soon and a bit unfair to make comparisons and draw conclusions), I already like Hanoi heaps more. We’re here during one of the short windows when the weather is mild and not oppressively humid, but I just like the feel and pace of this city a lot more. I was warned that it was noisier and more chaotic, but I’m finding the opposite to be true. Still, it’s still early in my trip.
Crutch in hand, I made my way around the streets of Hanoi, including walking all around the lake! I’m so grateful, considering a week ago, I couldn’t even move without excruciating pain. Crossing the street in this city is an adventure in itself. You just walk. And trust that the gazillion motor bikes, cars, and buses will swerve around you. It works. See? I lived to tell my tale.
Seb, our friend (and partner in CPG Trips) lived in Hanoi for over 5 years, so he knows the city backwards and forwards. The first lunch we enjoyed on our first full day was at his Italian friend’s restaurant, where we gobbled up penne pasta with arrabbiata sauce; bruschetta with tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, onions and raisins; and marinara pizza! (Remember: marinara is the oldest type of pizza. In other words, the original pizza was vegan.)
We’ll have our fill of local Vietnamese cuisine throughout the CPG Vegan Trip portion of our travels, so it was nice to partake in some traditional Italian food. The restaurant is called Mediterraneo, and I recommend it. Tell them I sent you — and mention Sebastien Ranger.
From there, we ventured to the Women’s Museum. Many aspects of Vietnamese culture are patriarchal, but many are matriarchal and celebrate the strength, softness, beauty, and indispensability of women. My gimpy little self has nothing on the amazing women who helped build, protect, and run this country.
Afterwards, we took a nap to help us acclimate to the time zone difference and had some food in the Vietnamese restaurant in our Metropole hotel. Really the main things to ask when eating here just as in any Asian restaurant anywhere are for no fish sauce and no egg. (Be sure to ask about the batter of some fried tofu; sometimes they use egg.) We capped off our night with a drink at the beautiful Metropole cafe. The perfect way to end a fantastic day!
I can’t wait to give our fellow travelers the trip of a lifetime. Have you been to Vietnam? What part, and again, I ask…where do you want to go on CPG Trips?