As one half of the wandering wives has already spent time in Vietnam, in this post Emily gives us her first impressions of the country:
After an eleven hour flight from Gatwick to Ho Chi Minh City we got off the plane feeling completely exhausted and anxious about getting our visas sorted. It turned out pretty easy to get the visa as we had got the paperwork organised beforehand. We had read online that you need to go around to the left to collect the visas, so while everyone else was faffing and trying to figure out what to do, we were already at the front of the queue. We were wondering what we were going to do for two hours while we waited for our flight, but we need not have worried as we spent the whole time moving from one queue to the next to get through immigration, then re-check in our bags, then go through security. As British women we are pretty proficient at queuing so this was a home from home for us, apart from the muggy morning heat and general chaos.
After our short flight to Hanoi we negotiated a taxi fare of $15US and braved the white knuckle ride into the city. At this point I was grateful for my state of complete exhaustion as I would have been a nervous wreck if I was more alert. This is my first time travelling to Asia and I had heard there were lots of bikes, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of the roads, particularly in a main city like Hanoi. The road system is one massive game of chicken, which everyone is playing; cars, mopeds, rickshaws and pedestrians alike. After negotiating our way out of the taxi and across the street to the hotel, we checked in and immediately decided we would need to have a sleep before we could brave the streets; our wits were not about us.
We later went to investigate our surroundings in the persistent northern Vietnam drizzle and attempted to get to grips with the road rules. For a while I couldn’t work out which side of the road the cars were supposed to be driving on, as it just seemed to be a free for all. We found a genuine looking chemist and got our anti-malarials, a lot cheaper than at home but probably not the best price in Hanoi. Due to the weather we got completely soaked and covered in wet street grime, but had a lovely dinner of noodles inside a nice little restaurant for about £1.50 each.
So at the end of my first day travelling, my feelings about Hanoi are mixed, but I am excited to see what comes next!