Happy Birthday in Hanoi


I chose this song because I had been counting down the days ‘til my parents would come to visit in Vietnam. It was also the anniversary of me seeing the band support Foreigner in my home city of Sheffield, with a friend and my parents – the song holds great memories for me.

Anyway, my parents were visiting for 2 weeks and I’d planned the itinerary to try and see a bit more of the country as this was there second visit to Vietnam. Two years ago they flew in to a very hot Saigon before coming to Phong Nha (also very hot) and then going to Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An. This holiday they would fly in to Hanoi where we would stay a couple of nights before taking a 4 day trip to Ha Long Bay and Monkey Island with my fellow CWAG (Caver’s wives and girlfriends), Chrissy. I had also booked a couple of days in Mai Chau where Captain Caveman would come too, in between his cave tours. There would be just a few days spent in Phong Nha and Dong Hoi at the end of the holiday this time.

I was looking forward to seeing my parents having not seen them for 7 months and was hoping they would enjoy seeing some of the north of Vietnam as well as seeing how Phong Nha had changed in the last 2 years. I was also looking forward to being a lady of leisure again and enjoying being a tourist for 2 whole weeks. It was also my mom’s 65th birthday, mother’s day and my dad’s birthday within the first week, so lots to celebrate.

I caught the overnight train from Dong Hoi to Hanoi late on the Thursday evening, I had a soft sleeper bottom bunk (for 470,000 VND) and slept really well due to the beers I’d had before departure. I’d left Captain Caveman at Beachside Backpackers in Dong Hoi, a gorgeous little bar and hostel right on the beach, as he was off on a cave tour the next day and would  join us in Hanoi the week after.

I arrived at the airport early. There is a number 86 bus that runs from the train station in Hanoi to the airport and goes via the main areas of Hanoi such as West Lake and Hoan Kiem and costs about 30,000 VND.  I had already booked us a couple of rooms at Home Hotel which is on Yen Phu Street in the Tay Ho District of Hanoi. I’d stayed here previously with Captain Caveman and thought it was a good location and value for money, we were there for 2 nights and I didn’t know if my parents might have jetlag so wanted a comfy bed for them.

I waited at the airport armed with my own luggage and a bunch of red roses for my mom, whose birthday it was that day.  I could see them waiting for their luggage and the hotel driver was already waiting with me when the eventually walked out. We were all so happy to see each other and mom was surprised at the flowers. It took us less than an hour to get through the busy traffic of Hanoi and to our hotel. The hotel charged us $18 for a pick up and it was a big car with plenty of luggage space.

As is often the case with me, I’d left getting my legs waxed until the last minute and so had arranged for Quy, a lady recommended on Hanoi Massive Facebook group, to meet me at the hotel – she will come to your room for massage, treatments, waxing etc and is really good without being too expensive. As we checked in we were told that we had been given an upgrade to the Executive Suites (next door to each other) which was a nice surprise for mom’s birthday. They don’t have big enough vases for bunches of flowers though, so mom made do with the bin which she propped up at the edge of the corner bath.

While I was checking my parents room, Quy had called to say she was here, in fact it turned out she had arrived before us and had saw us check in. My parents had a rest and unpacked and after Quy had gone we got ready and went off for a meal to celebrate mom’s birthday. We took a short taxi ride to a place called Dalcheeni (a lovely Indian restaurant on Xuan Dieu) where we got a much needed beer and ordered soup starters, mains, rice and nan bread plus a bottle of white wine. It was a nice meal and quite low-key for a 65th birthday celebration but we had a good laugh. We even walked over to Republic afterwards and sat on the terrace upstairs drinking another bottle of white wine. My mom was unaware that I’d organised a birthday celebration for the next evening and invited some friends along to help us celebrate.




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