Day 9 - 19th June
It’s our final day in Hà Nội and there’s no set agenda. Muriel and I opt to explore the other side of the Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The lake, which we’d only seen at sunset and in the early hours of the morning, now glistened under the midday sun, populated with locals and tourists alike, enjoying the cool breeze.
Our route took us to the Hà Nội Opera House, a grand building reminiscent of French colonial architecture. Its majestic façade and the surrounding well-tended greenery starkly contrasted with the narrow, bustling alleyways and frenzied street life we’d experienced in the preceding days. It was a testament to the city’s cultural diversity, where history and modernity coexist side by side.
As we continued, we found ourselves in an area distinctly different from the Hà Nội we’d grown accustomed to. Luxury shops lined the streets, with bright signs for Gucci, Rolex, Prada, and the like adorning the glass façades. The people here seemed different—better dressed, more preoccupied, but also a tad more reserved towards us outsiders. It was a wholly different side of Hà Nội, just a stone’s throw away from the old quarter we’d experienced over the past days.
The Return Journey
However, the journey back was very much in keeping with how everything had started here. Our taxi driver multitasked, using two mobile phones whilst driving—one briefly to notify the central office, and the other to maintain a video-call with an older lady throughout the ride. The motorway was chock-a-block with traffic heading to the airport, prompting our driver to cheekily take the opposite lane. Oncoming traffic seemed, surprisingly, rather used to such manoeuvres, and somehow, against all odds, we made it to the airport on time and in one piece.