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heydays with hanna is a commemoration of travel memoirs, design musings, photographs, and personal reflections. I hope to be able to encourage you all to embrace everything about the mundane and extraordinary days.
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West Lake, Tây Hồ, Hanoi, Vietnam

LET'S GO TO : TAY HO & TRUC BACH, HANOI

Hey everyone! It is a Tuesday today and I hope that you were able to have a productive day despite the current setup we all have right now. And even if you feel that you were not able to do productive things according to how you expected it, I hope that you won't beat yourself over it and just know that we all have different ways of coping, working, and learning. For now, it's time to slowly retire, breathe in some fresh air, collect your thoughts and plan again for tomorrow.
As we are all put on enhanced community quarantines and lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we constantly find ways to stay productive, positive, and still somehow connected to the outside world. With this in mind, I wish to use the heydays platform to aid your travel bugs and cure any forms of cabin fever. Allow me to introduce you to a blog series called 'Let's go to'. This series will mainly focus on me accompanying you and giving you a visual walkthrough of places that I've visited and have learned to fall in love with.

Last time, I took you around Hoan Kiem which is one of the main areas for tourists and locals in Hanoi. And while it serves as the center to all the main attractions in Hanoi, it's always nice to take the road less traveled every once in a while to be able to experience life on the other side. Today, allow me to take you with me and look back to one sunny and peaceful afternoon on the west side of Hanoi. I specifically loved this place because of its seemingly still and serene personality. Let's go to Tay Ho and Truc Bach!
More popularly known as the West Lake, this historical body of water is known to be the largest freshwater lake running around the circumference of 17 kilometers. The place is known to be the more expensive side of the city as it houses several five-star hotels, a huge variation of restaurants and cafes, as well as a lush and generous amount of greenery, temples, and botanical gardens.

As we have already seen and experienced life around the Hoan Kiem Lake, I could very much say that Tay Ho is definitely the place for those who have an extra amount of time and budget to spend while in Hanoi. The time spent in this area is definitely worthwhile as it is the perfect place to just kick back and let the day pass slowly or go back to after a long, tiring, yet fulfilling day of discovering the beauty of Hanoi.

If you happen to be planning a trip to Hanoi in the future, I have rounded up a small list of places or activities to do while in Tay Ho, since this is based from our own activities, you may also add up things and places to your list according to your liking.

1. Visit the Tran Quoc Pagoda
One of the 'must-see' places in Hanoi would be the Tan Quoc Pagoda. Famous for being the oldest of its kind in Hanoi, the famous pagoda stands 15 meters tall and is beautifully donned with bricks and intricately sculpted statues and elements all over its 11 levels. This is probably one of the few places I've seen in Tay Ho that had a lot of people mainly because it is free for all and with this, you will also be able to observe the locals practice their prayer rituals and worship.

As this is considered to be a place of reverence, please take note that proper and modest dressing is expected from everyone who enters it. Taking photographs is allowed at some points of the place but I highly suggest for you to take a photo or two and immerse yourself in the culture around the place. Please also be mindful of taking photos of people performing rituals as it is considered unacceptable. If you will be visiting around 1-3pm, I also suggest you bring a hat or small umbrella as the sun really shines on this side of the lake. Not to worry though as the lush and beautiful trees compensate by providing fresh and cooler air.

2. Cooldown at Quan Kem Ho Tay
I love Hanoi with all my heart, but the summer heat is intense! Growing up in the heat of the Philippines, I can very much say that I have a high tolerance for sun and heat. But spending summer in Hanoi just showed me that there is indeed a hotter summer out there. We went to Hanoi in mid-August and we were actually blessed enough to come at a time where the rain rarely came in, which was perfect because we got to maximize our visit. So if ever you plan to come to Hanoi during summer, don't forget to keep hydrating and don't feel guilty for stopping and taking long breaks to recuperate and gather energy to keep exploring!
After visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda, my husband and I felt a bit lethargic from all the heat we took in so we decided to cross the street, sit down for a while and have our share of popsicles from Quan Kem Ho Tay. We decided to sit by the alfresco area to get a good sweeping view of the Truc Bach Lake, a smaller lake across the West Lake but equally peaceful and refreshing.

3. Marvel on the lush landscape and humble Architecture of Den Thuy Trung Tien
As we gathered back the energy to walk around the place, we noticed this carved concrete bridge connecting the pedestrian lane along the Truc Bach lake and this small but lush patch of greenery sitting in the middle of the lake. 
Our curiosity made us discover Den Thuy Trung Tien, a small compound for worship. Comparing it to the Ngoc Son Temple in Hoan Kiem and the Tran Quoc Pagoda in West Lake, this one is much smaller and much peaceful. We decided not to go inside the compound as we were not really dressed appropriately and the place seemed to be closed at that time. Anyway, I would definitely still recommend this place and consider it one of my favorite structures in Hanoi. I just really love how nature envelops the place and unlike the many temples in this place, the structure is a bit more humble when it comes to height, color, and even location.

4. Explore the neighborhood around the Truc Bach Lake
Unlike the span of the West lake, Truc Bach lake very much walkable. And the local government really made sure to keep that visible by providing a generous amount of pavement in the sidewalk as well as the providence of beautiful flowers and trees along the pathway. Since our goal was to slow down, rest and be one with the place, we really did not list down a lot of places to visit. We just decided to walk around the vicinity of the lake and observe the architecture and the built environment in its purest, unscripted state.
The walk around will not disappoint you. Aside from the fresh air and natural lighting, I truly enjoyed walking around. It gave me a visual and contextual lesson on shophouses - how they are designed to be both functional, sustainable, and habitable by both the ones residing in it and the ones who are making a living inside the space. Unlike the vibrant buildings found in most parts of the Old Quarter and the French Quarter, structures in this area are more muted in color, giving any viewer an opportunity to appreciate the grillworks found in the balcony railings or window panes, the shutter doors and the latticework on windows. 
I also love how both architecture and landscape cohabitate in this place, it's very pure, it's very honest - it didn't need much curation, instead, they grow accordingly and interact with the buildings and the people around them by pure chance.

5. Support the local businesses, eat and drink more local offerings.
If you come to Hanoi, you will notice how the place still generally thrives on the local businesses - especially with food and coffee. While you will see one famous international food and beverage brand pop in from time to time, the idea of supporting local products is still very much the practice in Hanoi. And to tell you the truth, their food is amazing. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants around this are, each has a theme and concept of their own, most offer a much comfortable experience by offering and airconditioned dining area aside from the staple Vietnamese Alfresco dining setup.

6. Try at least one or two big Hanoian Cafe brands, I would have to recommend Cong Caphe
You will see this iconic name around every possible corner in Hanoi but this specific branch in Truc Bach is probably the most peaceful of them all. Famous for its camo green facade and its iconic bold signage, Cong Caphe is a coffee brand that started in 2007. The name is derived from the official name of Vietnam, which was CỘNG HOÀ XÃ HỘI CHỦ NGHĨA VIỆT NAM or The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The concept of the cafe is universal as each branch follows certain rules of brand identity and design - dark, rustic, and historical. Aside from its cozy and rustic interiors, Cong Caphe is famous for its variety of Coconut and Yoghurt Coffee. And so when my husband and I decided to call it a day and rest, we decided to take our refuge here.
It was probably the time but the place was a bit less populated. It was mainly us a few other tourists who were probably doing some work for the day. The cafe interior was a bit dim, with the dark color scheme, wooden furniture, and a few other rustic pieces dominate the space. But what I love about the place would be the contrast given in the dark space and treatment by providing a generous amount of windows to accommodate natural light and let it envelop the place during the day.
 One of the things that I will never forget about this trip would be the quiet golden hour spent in the balcony of this charming place. I think what made it more special would be the fact that we had that specific area to ourselves. This way, we were able to sit more comfortably without worrying about being judged (lol) and we were able to talk about how the day went for us and how we experienced the place as a whole.
To accompany our conversation, we tried out the Vietnamese Coffee with Yogurt and the Coconut Coffee as recommended by their barista. I was actually surprised by the idea of yogurt being in my coffee, but it actually did taste good - at least to our liking!

One of my favorite design applications in this particular cafe would be the generous use of contrast - in spatial meaning and experience, in colors, in lighting, even the taste of their drinks. For example, I love how the vibrancy of the floral seat cushions and pillows evened out the visual balance of space and broke the monotony and heaviness of the color and textures.
 I also enjoyed the space because of the random photographs displayed around the cafe, as a tourist, this really made me see life in Hanoi, way back when. It gave me so much appreciation of how Hanoians, in general, are seemingly grateful, hopeful, hardworking, and resourceful in every aspect of life.
What's a visit to Cong Caphe without buying a little piece that you could take home with you? For us, we decided to buy a couple of their coconut coffee mix and gave it out to our workmates back home when we got back!
There are a lot of things to do and places to see in Hanoi, I know I have said that countless times already and I couldn't highlight that enough; it all boils down to how you make the most out of your vacation. For us, this day was dedicated to immerse ourselves in one neighborhood and rest for a while. And in doing so, we were unexpectedly educated and entertained by the random encounters we had. 

I hope that this visual walkthrough on our small adventure encourage you in any way - whether it be a creative idea, looking forward to traveling anywhere, benchmarking places to see in Hanoi, or simply to feel a certain sense of company. It's always a great thing to share, especially if it encourages us to do and think of the good, the better, and the great things in life.

Happy Heyday!

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WHERE WE WENT:

Tran Quoc Pagoda
Đ. Thanh Niên, Yên Phụ, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Hours: 7:30am-6:00pm

Quan Kem Ho Tay
1 Đ. Thanh Niên, Trúc Bạch, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Hours: 8am-9:30pm

Truc Bach Lake
Ba Đình, Hanoi, Vietnam

Den Thung Truy Tien
Hồ Trúc Bạch, Phố Yên Hoa, Trúc Bạch, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Cong Caphe
15, Ba Đình, Vietnam
Hours: 7am - 11pm

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MORE HANOI POSTS

Heydays in Hanoi

Comments

  1. Yay! I'm so excited for your Let's Go To series. I love love love reading travel blogs because I feel like travelling with you too just by being in front of my computer. The places you went in Vietnam are so aesthetic especially the cafés, seems like the best place to go when you are clouded with a lot of stress, when you want to do work productively alone, or if you just simply want to hangout with friends. I miss that kind of vibe! Unfortunately where I live, rarely do I see a local cáfe and it's not even as aesthetic as the ones above! Asia really is rich in culture. I miss it😔😊 Thanks for your virtual walkthrough!💕

    Ann | annchoi.me

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    Replies
    1. Hey Ann!

      Thank you so much for supporting the idea of the new series. I really look forward to taking you and everyone with me around the mundane and extraordinary places! I really think that no matter where we go, there will always be a special lesson or discovery that is made for each of us. They don't have to necessarily create a huge and visible impact, but the most important thing is the memory of being IN there - familiarizing yourself with the place, the faces, and the little elements and textures that come to you one by one as you try and take in as much as your memory can take.

      Beauty, I believe highly depends on our perception. We make a constant decision to ourselves and try to investigate things, people, or places in more ways than one, hoping that we'll be able to extract other ways of seeing a certain situation or place in a beautiful manner. I hope that wherever you are right now, you'll be able to discover bits and pieces of that place, see its beauty, and be able to share it with us! <3<3 I really cannot wait too see that in the future <3

      I wish to share with you one of my favorite quotes from Grace Coddington from the September Issue: 'Always keep your eyes open, keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you'

      Let's keep in touch! Wishing you well and I hope that you are safe and healthy! <3

      Happy heydays,
      Hanna

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! So nice to travel digitally and see other parts of the world. These photos are beautiful, and looks so peaceful there! And there is a West Lake in Seattle too! I use to live in Seattle and West Lake there is also a very nice area. Though sadly I hear it has gotten very bad there b/c of crystal meth.

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking time to read through, Allie! It is definitely one of the best spots in Hanoi. I do hope that each city around the globe would be able to maintain and sustain a beautiful breathing space like this!

      I hope you are doing well, have a great week ahead!

      Hanna

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  3. I love the idea behind this new series and very much enjoyed reading through this post! I have never been to Hanoi but love travelling and it's so lovely being able to read about travels and adventures and plan for the future. Thanks so much - I'm looking forward to future posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katerina! Thank you for dropping by and for digitally travelling with me! It is truly a great time to think about the future, learn about places and plan for our next steps ahead!

      Let's keep in touch!

      Hanna

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  4. I tried Cong Caphe in Korea last year and it was so good! I wish they brought it over to the states!

    https://sundaydahlias.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sunday Dahlias! Thank you so much for dropping by and reading through. I did not know they expanded in Korea already! I shall definitely look for it when I visit this October just to geek out a bit and see if the taste is the same ;) I do hope you'll get a Cong Caphe near you soon!

      Let's keep in touch! Take care always.

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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  5. Hi Hanna!

    You are so lucky to have travelled to Vietnam! It's such a beautiful country. The street art looks beautiful, and I absolutely love the interior of Cong Caphe - I am a huge sucker for cute cafe's! Thanks for sharing this post, I'll definitely be using this as one of my guides for when I do eventually visit :)

    Nicole x

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    Replies
    1. Hey Nicole! I truly appreciate the time you took to read through the blog, it means a lot! I too love cafe's and it is surely one of the few activities that I truly miss doing. I can't wait to see what else is out there, once all is well again.

      Let's stay in touch!

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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