So here I am, awake at 2am, with nothing else to do but write a blog post about my very first day in Hanoi, Vietnam. I must say that it’s very different to what I expected, which is neither a good nor a bad thing. To be honest, I don’t really know what I expected.
Kenyan Airlines, for starters, surprised me the most. Chris and I left Jo’burg at 17:45 sharp on Wednesday 8 March, and arrived 3 and a half hours later in Nairobi, Kenya for our connecting flight to Hanoi. The layover was only 1 hour, so we were initially worried about possible delays. However, all our flights were right on time and after 14 hours worth of traveling we made it to our destination.
We were met by a very sweet man at Noi Bai International Airport who drove us to our Airbnb in Hoan Kiem. The roads were an organised mess of drivers and motorcyclists, everyone swerving between one another only missing each other by a few inches. But somehow it works? Everything is fast paced and overwhelming, especially for a foreigner like myself.
Our Airbnb – ‘Mia’s House’ – turned out to be a cute room in an alleyway right across the road from a spa, and right next door to a Victoria’s Secret. The place is clean, convenient and, most importanly, clean. Although the shower isn’t really a shower, but rather a portable spray that hangs loosely in the bathroom. It’s a bit of a mission to use, but we’ll only be staying here for a week.
After setting our bags down, Chris and I took a stroll atound the block to get a look at our neighborhood. We had drinks at Summit, a little grill and beer place, and then I grabbed a mini pizza from a shop called Fresh Garden. I’d never had peas and corn on a pizza before – it was interesting? We decided to go home and change for the evening because for some reason Hanoi unleashed the cold weather the minute we landed. We met up with Andoni and Jess, family of mine, and sat in on one of their private English lessons which they hold at their apartment in Royal City. I liked that area a lot more than the one we’re staying in; maybe because the city life reminded me a little bit of home? The kids in Andoni’s class were absolutely adorable and so so bright for their age. Watching him teach them made me excited to start my own teaching journey.
Once their last class came to an end at 8:00, we hit the mall situated under their apartment block for a bite to eat. Andoni wanted us to try some authentic, delicious Vietnamese food – and we were not disappointed. We had a variety of dishes from veggie noodles and fried corn, to succulent beef, deep fried rice, and spring rolls. Everything was absolutely to die for, and my stomach handled the food a lot better than I thought it would – although I can’t say the same for Chris who is currently lying next to me with heartburn.
We decided to call it a night after dinner as we were both tired from all the traveling. I’m nervous but excited to see what Hanoi has in store us. I feel overwhelmed by the fact that I’ve up and moved to a country where the currency, language, and culture are all so vastly different to what I’m used to back in South Africa. Sometimes I find myself thinking “what the hell have you done this time, Daniella?”. But like my mama says, I just have to take each day as it comes.