A midnight flight to Hanoi is the last thing that I would even imagine doing. I hate staying up late and I won’t enjoy anything with my eyes half-closed. But I later on found out that I was wrong. Flying at wee hours is the most relaxed that I have ever been. You’re in like this rendezvous with a place at pitch dark so you can’t judge it by its looks, so you’ll just have to base it on what you feel at that moment. And that moment felt blissful — a feeling I have not felt in a long time.
A chauffeur drops us off at Little Hanoi Hotel and a young man opens up the lobby’s lights to welcome us. He scratches his squinting eyes to give it some life. A warm smile soon appears upon his innocent face which makes us feel a little bit comfortable. After alighting off the elevator, he shows us our hotel room. Much to my surprise, it is decked off with opulence, such elegance. The walls have panels, on the ceiling hangs a chandelier and to top it all off a bath tub is available in the bathroom. We are off to a good start but my weary body is heeding to retire so we sleep the night away like we are just at home.
Waking up early, can be both a pain and a pleasure. Yes, its a bummer to get up when you can enjoy more hours just lying down but rising up before the sun has fully owned the morning skies is the most wonderful thing to do. You can see people at their best conditions, the wind is not as harsh compared in the afternoon and the light has this certain magical effect to your photographs. Moreover, you’ll have more time to roam around, even if you get lost.
It is exactly 6 AM. The wind is blowing so cold. I put on my scarf over my leather jacket to ease the bone-chilling weather. We ride the elevator and press the button leading to the cafeteria. Little Hanoi Hotel has free breakfast for their tourists which is very beneficial to us travelers.
We get to meet other people from various parts of the globe. If I remember it correctly, one family is from Australia and the other is from Canada. All of us are first-timers in Vietnam. So far, everything is in place. The food, the weather and I don’t feel anxious in meeting new people. It can be hard. I am used to being alone and independent. Opening up can be a dilemma, sometimes.
After our sumptuous meal, we swing the doors open, ready to uncover new adventures. I can see the glimmer in the eyes of my friend. The kind of glow which can only be gotten from spiritual awakenings. I, too, am inspired with what we are currently seeing.
We deliberately decided to get lost in the interconnected, web-like narrow streets of Hanoi. Every alley is filled with stores of all kinds with faces that look so welcoming.
A rickshaw driver, park beside us, asking us if we want a ride. With 20,000 Dong, he drives us to Hoan Kiem Lake. We arrived there after 5 minutes or so. He left us with a remarkable smile, wishing us to have a great time in Hanoi. That felt so vindicating. A local actually wishes us well. I am slowly falling head over heels with Vietnamese people’s attitudes — kind, hospitable and those smiles can melt even the hardest of hearts.