Hanoi is not your average Asian city, with a French flair flowing through its veins and a hidden culture at it’s heart.
Lam, our tour guide from AMO Travel, picked us up from our hotel bright and early on this sunny day and the first stop was his family home in ‘Ngoc Ha’ the ‘Flower Village’ in Central Hanoi. Lam and his Wife Thuy are a rare find, never have I been welcomed so warmly by strangers. Their families have lived in Hanoi city for over 300 years and their knowledge of the city is beyond that of any other tour company I have seen- it is real and raw.
Lam brought us to places that only a true Hanoian would understand- area’s of devastation, areas of happiness and areas of adventure. The Hidden Hanoi tour is not for the faint hearted- a gruelling bike ride through winding streets, paddocks and banana fields, over hills and across rivers. My biggest tip- Prepare your Bum for the ride!!!!
Tofu Manufacturers in the Flower Village
We headed through the small villages scattered across Hanoi, each with their own unique trade. The fishing village ‘Yen Phu’ was thriving with the catches of the day, huge three story fish farms and bustling with locals. On the way through we stopped a number of times to try the local delicacies and of course- the Hanoi coffee!! Everyone heading to Vietnam should try the local roasts- they are sweet, delicious and cheap!!!
To our surprise, Lam led the way through a ceramic town perched in the outer part of the city called ‘Nhat Tan’ or the ‘Kumquat Tree Village’, where we were saddened by the poverty and living quarters of these people. Only seeing this way of life can anybody really understand how lucky we are to grow up with wealth, travel and basic amenities like water and clean clothes. I think this is why I like travelling the most.. it makes you grateful for where you come from and the people who surround you in every day life.
I was then brought to a small boat and headed over to a banana plantation sitting on top of a small island that most locals don’t even know has access- definitely the highlight of the day. Luscious fields of banana trees, butterflies and a bumpy trail leading to Hanoi’s biggest secret- but you will need to do the tour to fine this one out- my lips are sealed! We enjoyed a beer, sat with locals and enoyed the views over the Red River.
Rowing Across the Red River to a Banana Plantation
This is not your average cycling tour. I never thought I would understand a culture as deeply as Lam had allowed me too and I am forever in his dept for that. The Vietnamese people live in poverty, some in unbelievable situations, yet they never complain- they just continue to fight back and grow stronger. Lam was such a beautiful person and a rare find in a city of 8 million, even providing part of his tour profits to a charity supporting volunteers throughout Vietnam! If you want to experience the raw culture of a city like Hanoi- this tour is your anwser.
Once again, Thank you Lam and AMO Travel Vietnam, today you changed my life.
If you want to head out on this tour, contact Lam at- www.amovietnam.com