I know I know, it’s been almost a year since my trip to France and Vietnam, but I only just got around to start looking through and sorting out all my Vietnam pictures!
Every time I plan for a holiday, I am torn between visiting my family and friends in the homeland, and travelling to new exotic places, where I can just sit on my “derrière” and drink cocktails on the beach.
That is why last year I decided to do both! Two weeks in France and two weeks in Vietnam: perfect! Yeees, not that perfect in the end, both were too short! Tough life…
So the plan was to spend a few days in Hanoi, then fly to Phu Quoc Island, stay there for a week and fly back to Ho Chi Minh City to visit for a couple more days.
My boyfriend, who had been travelling in the country for a few weeks already, picked me up at the airport from my Paris flight and showed me around the main sights, like the French Quarter and the Saint Joseph Cathedral, reminiscent of the city’s now distant French colonial past.
I was a bit annoyed I had to carry around all my winter clothes I had packed for France, but in the end I was very grateful for my coat, it was pretty cold in Hanoi!
Ly Thai To (founder of Hanoi) monument, near Hồ Hoàn Kiếm Lake
I had read about how crossing the streets could be a real mission in Vietnam, as there are basically no rules, no lights, no pedestrian crossings… it’s every man for himself! You just have to go for it like a blind person and pray for the thousands of scooters coming right at you to know what they’re doing! (There are even a few videos on YouTube that will give you an idea)
I was a bit nervous about it at first, but later on in Ho Chi Minh I even crossed the street by myself without getting killed: for a distracted and clumsy person like myself, it’s quite a feat!
We then walked around the Hồ Hoàn Kiếm Lake, in the cultural and historical area, which has a very romantic atmosphere, with its littles bridges, flowers and old trees.
For our only evening in Hanoi, M. decided to take me to a nice restaurant he had spotted earlier in the Old Quarter, Green Tangerine, which had also been strongly recommended by a fellow blogger Noodlies. The restaurant was set in a most charming old building, and offered a French cuisine with a Vietnamese twist, which makes sense as French Chef Stéphane Yvin runs the kitchen together with his Vietnamese wife Tin.
As soon as we stepped in the cute courtyard and entrance, we were transported into another era. I almost felt like Catherine Deneuve in “Indochine“, a movie set in French colonial Indochina in the 1930’s.
Inside, the decorations, lamps, pictures on the walls reinforced the colonial feel, and the peaceful atmosphere offered a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the Hanoi streets.
Some of the dishes I don’t remember quite well, such as this Fig Tempura stuffed with Goat’s cheese…
…. as well as those savoury Profiterolles….
However I do remember the Duck dish very well: it was delicious!!! It was superbly cooked and had such interesting and new flavour combinations, with the Vietnamese herbs and the “Ca Bung” sauce… pretty unusual and very pleasant!
M. was equally impressed with his vegetarian ravioli and the whole meal in general. All the dishes were very nicely plated and decorated, and the food was fantastic, probably very expensive by Vietnamese standards, but quite cheap compared to Sydney’s French restaurants in Sydney.
Unfortunately, that’s all we had time to do in Hanoi, we had to get up the next day at stupid o’clock to go to the airport and take a plane to Phu Quoc, an postcard-like island located in the far South-Western side of the country (off the Cambodian coast), where hopefully warmer temperatures would welcome us!
Address: 48 Hang Be Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Tel: (04) 3825 1286 – Fax: (04) 38289167.