We left Sydney yesterday afternoon (Feb 20th, 15:15) and arrived in Hanoi after midnight Sydney time 22:00+ local time. The flight was uneventful. The passengers were predominantly Vietnamese with a significant number of young families with children and infants.

Many of the passengers were carrying 2 or 3 large cardboard boxes extensively wrapped in packing tape amongst their checked baggage. We assumed these contained gifts for family or the results of shopping expeditions in Sydney.

Hanoi International Airport is new having been openned in 2015 along with a new 6 lane highway into the city of Hanoi, and a new bridge over Hanoi's Red River. The bridge is extensively lighted and together with the neon lighted skyscapers in the background gave a strong first impression of the city.

Our Hotel is in an area close to Hanoi's Military Museum, the Hanoi Hilton POW Exhibition, and the Hanoi Citadel which was built around 1060 when the seat of government was moved from the coast to the present Hanoi.

There were no planned activities today. We expected to need a slow day for our old bodies to recover from the rigors of yesterdays flight. But as it turned out we were out walking and looking by 8:30.

So what are our first impressions.

Big and dense is the strongest first impressions. Buildings are jammed together, all are multi-story, lots of narrow streets and alley ways. According to google a population of over 8 million.

The density of traffic and the multitude of small motorcycles adds to the sense of big, dense and busy.

Coffee shops are everywhere as are small store front shops and restaurants all spilling out over the pavement.

A definite sense of being tropical, lots of large trees many with buttress route systems like Sydney Fig trees and others with aerial systems. Not surprising as Hanoi's latitude is a touch over 21°.

The age of the city has clearly been a challenge for modern transport and new technology such as electricity and internet as rat's nests of wiring are a common sight.

Incidentally we discovered that Hanoi is two words Ha Noi and means between (or in) the river. Indicating its location on the inside of a loop in the Red River.