Xin chao! My first week in Hanoi has been a whirlwind of excitement from the moment I stepped foot off the plane. The first night, however, was somewhat terrifying: I got picked up from the airport by a shy Vietnamese man who brought me to my house for the next month in the middle of nowhere, in the pitch black night, through a maze of slums and alleyways. Then, he just showed me my room and left - no internet, no phone, no people. After a much needed shower and change of clothes, I went down to the common breakfast room to have my first meal in 12 hours; a bowl of Cheerios (what I would later find out would be my only breakfast for the next month). I was extremely relieved when my housemate Patrick finally showed up and made me feel more comfortable in this completely unfamiliar place. He showed me around our neighbourhood (and how to get to the closest wifi cafe!).
Here are some pictures of my neighbourhood, Ba Dinh, which is about 15 minutes away from the famous Old Quarter. I love this rural area because there are no tourists here and it is so fascinating to watch the locals go about their daily lives on my way to work. At first, everyone kind of stares at me funny, thinking "what is she doing here?", but as soon as I let a glimpse of a smile peek through my lips, their eyes light up and they yell out an excited "HELLO!" accompanied by a huge smile spreading across their initially impassive faces.
|The alleyway that leads to my house right off Núi Trúc and Kim Mã street.|
|Walking around the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi|
|Fruit vendor in Ba Dinh|
Crossing Kim Ma street, on my way to work
The Temple of Literature is Vietnam's first national university. Built in 1070, it is one of several temples in Vietnam dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars.
|Inside the temple, there are various altars dedicated to Confucius and his disciples, where offering ceremonies take place|
|Altar to Chu Văn An, rector of the imperial academy|
|This little boy came to sit in front of me as I was on my lunch break at a nearby restaurant. He was so cute and fascinated with my iPad, which I used to capture this picture|