Hanoi – Chickens and Turtles and Rabbits
My flight from Luang Prabang to Hanoi was already booked when I made my final decision to go home for two weeks, and I was looking forward to hanging out with Victoria, who I met in Siem Reap a few weeks earlier. I wanted to enjoy as much of Hanoi as I could, even though my heart wasn’t quite in it. After a delayed flight and spending way too much on transport from the airport, I arrived at my hotel in desperate need of a shower. Victoria was already waiting for me in the lobby, practicing her Vietnamese with the employees. Her motorbike was parked out front, but luckily when I rushed back from my shower, she said we were taking a taxi to meet her friends on Chicken Street.
Having a meal on Chicken Street
I don’t think the official name of the street is Chicken Street, but this is apparently what everyone calls it, and for good reason. While you can certainly get other types of meat here, chicken is the most prominent. Little tables are set up on the side of the road for eating and socializing while the food is cooked nearby on a grill. No one at our table ordered chicken feet, but we did see a group of guys eating them a few feet away, and the cook always had a few on the grill.
An oddly placed rabbit
I spent a lot of time just wandering around the city. I usually like cities, and Hanoi was no exception. It was also a welcomed change of pace after spending so much time in calm Laos and Cambodia. I loved Hoan Kiem Lake, which was right near the Old Quarter where I spent most of my time. One day while walking by the lake, I looked across the street and saw a huge Playboy bunny logo. It turns out it was a trendy clothing store.
Legend of the turtle
Hanoi has a legend about a turtle returning a sword to its divine owner in Hoan Kiem Lake. As a result, there seemed to be turtles in various forms all over the city. I saw turtle statues and live turtles swimming in the fish pond at the Temple of Literature. There is a temple on a small island in the lake that has a turtle statue of a giant species that is said to still live in the lake, though to the best of my knowledge no one has seen any.
I usually love cities, and Hanoi was no exception. It’s full of energy, lots to look out when you’re walking around, interesting people to talk to on every corner. Laos was very relaxing and laid back, but I love how alive cities like Hanoi are. I will definitely need to plan another trip to Vietnam in the future since I didn’t get to see much beyond Hanoi. Plus I decided not to make a trip out to Halong Bay, so I will be back to this interesting country with Andy another time.
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January 20, 2012 @ 12:05 AM
This is interesting- most people love Luang Prabang and you didn’t and most of what I read about Hanoi isn’t particularly positive, but you liked it! I love hearing your opinions.
January 21, 2012 @ 9:10 AM
Thanks Erik! I guess we all enjoy different things. I’m definitely a city person!
January 20, 2012 @ 6:28 AM
Talk about a coincidence 🙂 I have a roast chicken in the oven as we speak!
As for Chicken Street, knowing that it’s Vietnam they could be serving everything but chicken. At least you didn’t go for the snake that they have on the menu at some restaurants there. I saw that on a special episode of the car show Top Gear where the two hosts did a scooter trip up the main highway from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. One of them actually tried the snake dish where I believe they kill the snake right in front of your eyes and skin it and cook up its meat. Not for the faint heartened. And definitely not for you and me.
January 21, 2012 @ 10:12 AM
I like to try new things (see my older post about eating cuy in Ecuador) but I also know my limits. The snake thing doesn’t sound so great, although I might be more willing to try it if I didn’t have to see it killed and skinned first. It’s weird enough seeing chickens walking around in most of the places I’ve traveled to and think “I eat those all the time.”
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures
January 20, 2012 @ 2:57 PM
My hubby would go crazy in the turtle temple — he’s obsessed with turtles. 🙂
January 21, 2012 @ 10:13 AM
Then he’d love Hanoi!
January 20, 2012 @ 11:32 PM
I love the temple of literature! I don’t see it in blog posts that often, but it is a place of tranquillity within a hectic city. Well, at least it’s a place to relax if you want to escape the city. Enjoy it!
January 21, 2012 @ 10:17 AM
Thanks Emiel! The Temple of Literature wasn’t my favorite place in Hanoi, but it was peaceful and pretty, and I don’t remember hearing the traffic noise even though it was so close. I really liked the fish/turtle pond 🙂
January 30, 2012 @ 6:12 AM
Depending on how chicken feet are prepared, they taste different – I’ve had crispy ones before – not bad.
January 30, 2012 @ 7:41 AM
I’ve eaten cuy, so chicken feet can’t be that weird, but it just seems like there wouldn’t be enough meat to make them worth it.
January 31, 2012 @ 7:36 PM
I’ve love to visit the turtle temple! I’ve been to Hanoi but didn’t even know about it 🙂
January 31, 2012 @ 11:00 PM
I honestly didn’t go to it, I just saw it in the middle of the lake from the side of the lake. But it looked really pretty all lit up at night.
February 19, 2012 @ 9:17 PM
I loved my time in Hanoi! Anyone who’s interested in the turtle legend should visit the Water Puppet Theater – a unique local art form – where story gets beautifully re-enacted http://sandstoneandamber.com/2012/02/11/a-walk-though-hanoi/
February 20, 2012 @ 8:37 PM
Thanks Ania! I thought about going to the Water Puppet Theater but I just didn’t get around to it.
June 23, 2012 @ 3:32 AM
Love the turtles, so cute.
June 24, 2012 @ 8:33 PM