[Travel Diary] Hanoi, Vietnam

[Travel Diary] Hanoi, Vietnam

August 4, 2014

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The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, while traveling from the North to the South of Vietnam. I wish I could have shared my experiences with you in real-time—aside from Instagram—but I wasn’t in any location more than a couple of days, as we toured through over a dozen villages/cities through a tour organized through VITOURS, by a family friend who’s native to Saigon.

I packed everything I needed for 16 days into a small carry-on sized suitcase and a carry-on tote, and made sure to only bring pieces that weren’t too valuable because we moved around so much, slept on a bus, boat, train, plane and of course, many hotels.

It was quite the challenge because I’m usually an over-packer and never travel without my laptop, but my nice camera and iPhone did make the cut. I was able to keep the packing to a minimum by the following ways:

-packing neutral colors that can be easily interchangeable in multiple outfits

-a small bottle of Woolite for hand-washing in the hotel

-packing pieces that can be worn multiple ways, like these fun pants (see below), which also can be worn as a romper and if you flip it around, a top. You can see how I styled it on Vagamundo’s site both ways

-packing comfortable, but versatile and not bulky shoes like these Birkenstocks that could be dressed up or down, Havaianas for the beach, Keens for hiking and TOMS for traveling

-scarves that could double as shawls, sarongs and even dresses

-minimal jewelry and accessories

The Vietnamese tend to not dress up, other than when the women where the traditional dress, an Ao Dai, but otherwise in the capitol city of Hanoi, anything seemed to go, though women were a bit more covered than the globalized city of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). It makes sense to dress down when life revolves around work, drinking coffee, eating and getting around on a motorbike everywhere (literally EVERYWHERE). We hardly saw anyone walking on a mission, the way we do in NYC, probably because it’s too hot. The motorbikes lined the sidewalks to the point where you can hardly walk without bumping into one either parked or moving, and they fill the streets from every angle.

Crossing the street was no easy task in Hanoi, thanks to the packed streets and lack of traffic lights. Somehow it all works, like a school of fish, without any aggression and what seemed to be no accidents. It’s also common to see motorbikes carrying a family of 4 or even what looks like a truck should be carrying.

We took refuge at 6am, before the motorbikes come out for rush hour, and watched the streets crowd with food vendors and elderly practicing Thai Chi around the lake in the city center. It was the zen we needed in a city that makes much of New York look sleepy.

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|ABOVE| French Connection top (old) // Vagamundo pants (c/o) // Birkenstock sandals // Hathamade bracelet (c/o) // Urban Outfitters backpack // TOMS sunglasses

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|ABOVE| Zara dress // Winter Kate kimono jacket (old, similar online) // Scala hat (similar)

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