After the flight delay at the Siem Reap International Airport, we finally left on our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. We arrived in Hanoi more than two hours after the scheduled arrival time. It was pretty late in the evening by then, so it did not take long for us to get through immigration and wait for our luggage. I had requested a pickup service through the hotel where we’re staying in the Old Quarter part of Hanoi. I was a little worried that because our flight was delayed we would miss the pickup. However, thankfully the driver actually patiently waited for us, and we were able to locate him when we exited the airport.
The drive from the Hanoi Noi Bai Airport to the Old Quarter took about twenty minutes or so. Hanoi seemed quite more modern than Phnom Penh, but not as developed as Bangkok. When we got closer to the Old Quarter we saw what we read in the guidebooks: narrow streets and very dense areas. It was weekend evening, so there were still quite a lot of activities out on the street.
When we arrived at our hotel, the Hanoi Serenity Hotel, we were welcomed by the young lady at the front desk that doubled up as the concierge and also a tour business. She gave us our room assignment, and it was on the fifth floor of the building. There was no elevator to go up, so she had one of the hotel staff members helped us with our luggage to go to our room. Originally we were planning on at least getting a dinner at a restaurant in Hanoi for that night. But it was close to 11 pm by the time we settled in our room, and since we’re not even familiar with the area near the hotel and we had a long day following, we decided to just call it a night.
In the morning, we got up pretty early, and we went down to the ground floor to a breakfast area at the back of the hotel. There they had complimentary breakfast made fresh to order. We looked at the menu, and I ordered scrambled eggs and bacon. The breakfast items were pretty much like what I expected, though it was served with a baguette. Similar to Cambodia, some of the French colony influences remained in the culture, including the use of baguette for sandwiches or as part of a meal. The baguette in Vietnam seemed to be lighter and more airy than the French baguette I had elsewhere.
Along with the meal, we could also make our own coffee serving. This became the favorite way to start the day for Kristi and me… making a nice cup of hot Vietnamese coffee mixed with condensed milk (cà phê sữa nóng). After the nice meal and coffee, we’re ready to start our day exploring Hanoi. Technically we were checking out from our room that morning as we would be going to Sapa that night, but the lady at the hotel front desk was nice enough to allow us to leave our luggages in our room, and she said they would bring those down to the ground floor and store them for us while we went out and about in the city, and we could just pick up the luggages before we leave in the evening.
Here was the nice breakfast I had that morning, the scrambled eggs, bacon, and baguette.