Friday, October 07, 2011

Pre-Hanoi Notes

About 8 days before our departure typhoon Nesat struck Hanoi after leaving a trail of damages in Hainan Island but did not cause much harm to northern Vietnam except delivering lots of rain especially to coastal villages. It reminds me of our South Korea holiday last year when we were caught in another typhoon. With autumn turning the corner the weather is starting to cool but rainy days are still being forecasted.

The decision to visit Hanoi came in May soon after our Melbourne and Sydney holidays in April and with Air Asia promotion I bought tickets online. I paid a total of RM1790 which include return fare and all taxes but not travel insurance. This work out to under RM900 per person. After that I worked with Ms Xuan of VietnamTripAdvisor in Hanoi for a 7D6N package. The fee comes to USD850 for 2 or about RM1300 per person. Add in pocket expenses for some food and tickets of RM300 the total cost per person comes to RM2500 including insurance. This for 7D6N is cheaper than some local our packages that charge this amount for 6D5N and exclude Sapa.

Hanoi is just over 3 hours away and 1 hour earlier than Malaysia so adjustment will be easy. However it should be either the same time zone or later because its sunrise and sunset are at about 5.45am and 5.45pm respectively which I personally find too early. Vietnam as a country is further east than Peninsular Malaysia should logically be an hour ahead i.e. GMT +9 hours. Perhaps this encouraged an early to rise and early to bed lifestyle that I find familiar in the good old days before we had television and shopping malls. Nowadays we prefer to sleep late and get up late, if you have no work to attend to.

I asked what does Hanoi means. The answer I get is Land inside a River which is what it means in Mandarin. Hanoi is situated on the right bank of the Red River which emanated from Southwest China in the Yunnan Province to north Vietnam and flowed south east into the Gulf of Tonkin. The river got its name from the silt laden reddish brown water.

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam with a population of almost 6.5 million now, less than half of whom stay inside the city. This makes Hanoi a much larger city than Kuala Lumpur which only have 1.4 million urban residents. Because of the French occupation from 1888 Hanoi retains remnants of French building architecture and culture. You can read more of Hanoi HERE.

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