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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

HANOI, VIETNAM

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, was our last stop. We had been in Vietnam for three weeks, and were finishing our adventure here.

Our flight from Hue went without a hitch, and once again, our driver was at the airport waiting. Not knowing where we’re going, unable to read signs, seeing a card with our name on it at arrival is a welcome relief. This is a terrific feature that the Prince II Hotel offered. Hung, the Manager, answered our email quickly regarding our stay, and seemed most eager to please. Just two years old, The Prince II has smartly appointed large rooms with French shuttered windows opening to the bustling businesses below, Chinese furniture, beautiful marble floors, and a large modern bath:  $15-$20 USD.

THE PRINCE II HOTEL

We are staying in the Old Quarter; a tangle of streets and alleys filled with vendors, amazing shops, motorbikes and bicycles.  It's hectic and a bit frenetic; so easy to get disoriented, quickly losing track of where we are. Even though the streets wind unendingly, eventually, we find some familiarity in all of this. Thank God for our GPS!

After a bit of scouting around, we took a break and had a couple of draft beers (4 for 47 cents, plus peanuts!) sitting right on the corner sidewalk on miniature stools with a little plastic table. In the US, these stools and tables would be used for kindergarten.  Called Bia Hoi, gathering places such as these are very popular among the Vietnamese. Street vendors come around with little barbeques cooking up fish, chicken or vegetables right there while you are having your ten cent beer. Or perhaps someone will bring spring rolls, or fresh fruit. This was a busy corner, and the perfect place to watch the action.

Speaking of action, we saw trains of cyclos coming from the fancy hotels across town. Six, ten, twelve at a time, all in a row with foreigners sitting in them, and we were part of their tour! Here we are, drinking our local beer, having local appetizers, and the tourists are gawking at US! It was like being in the zoo. What a different perspective.

BILLY AT A LOCAL BIA HOI

The next morning, it was time to explore our surroundings. The first “bad weather” of our Vietnam trip, the overcast gray skies were a nice break from hot and humid, and the mist gave a certain “ancient” feel to everything we saw.

 

Hanoi, supposedly the “most Asian City” in Vietnam, is not as modern as its southern rival. Once outside the Old Quarter, the peaceful tree lined boulevards, sidewalk cafes, and French architecture cannot go unnoticed; perfect for strolling arm in arm with your lover. Hoan Kiem Lake serves this purpose, as many folks come here to relax, sit on park benches with old friends, or walk to get exercise. The Lake serves as a large and easy-to-recognize landmark with the streets all branching off from there. Make it back to the lake, and instantly we know about where we are.

YOUNG LOVERS AT HOAN KIEM LAKE

Lunchtime approaches quickly each day, and several times we decided to eat at a recommended place called the Cyclo Café. Noted for its ambiance - all the seats are transformed cyclos - the food is worth mentioning as well. We each had the set lunch, at 50,000 dong ($3.33 USD), which is the best deal offered in this unique midpriced restaurant.  There are several selections for this set price menu, which also includes coffee or tea. It must be mentioned here that the Vietnamese coffee is some of the very best.  Whether enjoyed after a sumptuous meal, or at many of the local cafes about the city, this flavorsome treat is not to be missed.  We recommend finding a neighborhood coffee bean vendor and buying a kilo of your favorite coffee to take home or to your next destination.  Well worth the reasonable price charged of $6.67 US.

FRESH GRILLED TUNA ON A BED OF TOMATOES, ZUCCHINI, OLIVES AND CRUSHED CAPERS

 

The streets here in the Old Quarter are bewilderingly winding and it is easy enough to think you are on one street when in actuality you want to be on the one above it or below it. However, the street signs are very well marked and in large letters that can actually be seen. The street names and features on the map we have even matches the roads!  The Vietnamese seem to be very organized, except for the frenzied traffic, and even that is organized chaos.

CARRYING SUGAR CANE OVER THE LONG BIEN BRIDGE

In an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the vendor filled streets, we hired two cyclo drivers to take us across the Long Bien Bridge. Even though it looked like the bridge itself could fall down at any moment, we risked it. Built in 1902, spanning 5500 feet across the Red River, this bridge was continuously bombed during the Vietnam War. Supporting several rail lines and two highways it was heavily fortified and was an important target for the Americans. Yet the Vietnamese, with their reputable persistence, never ceased to rebuild it, time and time again after the bombings. The slow and peaceful 2 hour cyclo ride was a welcomed change from the manic pace of crowded streets we left behind. 

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After five days or so, we realized that we had hit upon pattern of cool, drizzly, heavy skied days.  Everything is damp, through and through.  This city holds great promise of beauty should the sun come out.  With the architecture being so influenced by the French, the men wearing berets, the bicycles, baguettes, and brie, it is very reminiscent of being in France.

We found ourselves wandering the Old District, seeing the grand Opera House and museum buildings.  We took our time to reflect on our distinctive visit to Vietnam while sitting in cafes sipping coffee.

TYPICAL STREET IN OLD QUARTER

The sun eventually did come out to create splendor and shadow - even if it was only for moments at a time.  Vietnam, with its intense history, its quality of goods offered for sale, the beauty of the countryside, and general all around variety at affordable prices is a highly recommended vacation destination in our judgment.  Do yourself a favor and consider this newly opened country as a place for your next holiday.

HOTELS AND TRAVEL INFORMATION

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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