Hanoi was initially challenging. Where we are staying is super busy, with small streets overrun by the motorbikes which aren't already parked on what really should be the sidewalk.
"Red light" seems to mean only "consider slowing down". It is stinky, chaotic, and the air quality leaves something to be desired (namely actual quality air).
But, after a day and a half, and a few excellent massages, we found the rhythm of this place. As I am writing this, it is 11 pm on Saturday night, we are back in our Airbnb (two great rooms, each with bathroom $50 total for two nights), and the neighborhood is still throbbing.
Our evening included
taking in some of the acts at the city wide fair which has taken over the now blessedly pedestrian only lakefront,
Stimulating the local economy with purchases from the amazing variety of shops filled to the brim with either works of local handicrafts or name brand merchandise,
Looking for, finding, and totally appreciating, the Hidden Gems cafe, which features amazing smoothies, great coffee, and decor made entirely from discarded objects,
Having an awesome dinner at the Era restaurant, with French-inspired service, Vietnamese flair, and Chilean Syrah,
Stumbling upon an excellent street karaoke rendition of "Despacido",
Enjoying foofy cocktails and amazing views at the twilight sky bar,
And watching the whole city party together on the way home.
We head to Ha Long Bay tomorrow morning at 7:30. I hope I can sleep!