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-   -   Hello Hanoi!! (https://www.fodors.com/community/asia/hello-hanoi-655528/)

eurotraveller Oct 27th, 2006 01:24 PM

Hello Hanoi!!
 
I have been in contact with some people at www.hellohanoi.org. It is a new organization that is made up of students that are interested in cultural exchange with people from other parts of the world.

They organize get togethers that bring local Hanoians (is that a word?) together with travellers to exchange cultural info and visit.

I have been emailing back and forth and it looks like my trip will coincide with a party that will take place on Nov. 16th or 17th!! They have also offered to have some students take me on a walking tour.

I am sure that some of you may be skeptical about this type of thing. I will be sure to post back about my experience.

Cheers!

Kathie Oct 27th, 2006 02:43 PM

"I am sure that some of you may be skeptical about this type of thing. " I'm sure you are joking - given the number of gtgs people on this board have!

But do post back about your experience.

eurotraveller Oct 27th, 2006 03:03 PM

No, Kathie, I am not joking. there are a lot of people that would be skeptical about someone offering a "free tour of Hanoi". Just do a search on the TT forum for "Hello Hanoi" and you will see what I mean.

Kathie Oct 27th, 2006 03:28 PM

Well, I did the search you suggested and it turned up one thread. There were a couple of slightly skeptical responses ("how much should I pay really?") but not much else to comment on. If TT folks were REALLY skeptical, you'd see the post in flames!!

Anyway, do report back about your experience. There are quite a number of organizations in Hanoi working with street kids. I always recommend a visit to KOTO, a cafe that trains stret kids to work in the food service industry. It's a charming cafe, near the Temple of Literature and next door to CraftLink.

eurotraveller Dec 7th, 2006 05:18 AM

I am reporting back about my experience with this wonderful organization!

First of all, it is not an organization made up of street kids. It is a group of intelligent students who are looking for cultural exchange and an opportunity to perfect their English.

I arrived in Hanoi a several days later than I had planned so I missed the Nov. 16th party that they had set up.

When I arrived I emailed Linh of www.hellohanoi.org and left her the number of my hotel. She called me at 8:00 a.m. and asked if I had plans for the day. She offered to meet me at my hotel at 9 a.m. to give me a tour of Hanoi.

Linh showed up promptly at 9 a.m., dropped off by her mother. I was greeted by a beautiful, energetic, intelligent young lady who spoke flawless English!

Linh is a gifted student and aspires to go to one of the top 50 universities in the USA. I have no doubt she will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to!

She suggested we head to Pottery Village since my hotel was near the bus stop.

Off we went for the 1/2 hour ride to Pottery Village. There are many, many beautiful treasures to be found here! Linh also told me that the prices for the same items in the old quarter would be about triple what they are in Pottery Village. I bought a few things, including a small gift for Linh as a thank you for her hospitality.

After the Pottery Village we went into the Old Quarter, had lunch and wandered around a bit. She then invited me to her home to meet her mother and grandmother.

It was interesting to see a typical Vietnamese home and I felt honored to be visiting. Her mother and grandmother are lovely ladies! The house is narrow and tall. 5 Stories! We sat and had a cup of tea and then Linh brought me up to her room so I could use her computer to make a free call using www.gizmoproject.com. She introduced me to this great resource that is similar to skype but better!

Linh's mom invited me to dinner that evening but I already had a dinner commitment with some people I had met. She then suggested that we all come for lunch the following day!

We took a taxi to Linh's house the following day and were treated to a beautiful and delicious lunch consisting of spring rolls, salad rolls, two different kinds of salads and a type of pork patty.

The hospitality that Linh and her family showed me will be something I will never forget! I hope to have the opportunity to host her in Portland, OR in the near future. I feel blessed to have spent time with Linh. She is a gem!

For any of you that plan on visiting Hanoi, I highly recommend you contact www.hellohanoi.org! It is a fantastic organization!

Cheers!

julies Dec 7th, 2006 04:26 PM

I'm so glad you posted this. We would absolutely love to be able to do something similar. I too had read aboaut hellohanoi over on the Lonely Planer forum but had forgotten about them. Thanks again. To me, this type of experience is what really makes a visit authentic rather than just another round of sight seeing.

dperry Dec 8th, 2006 01:02 AM

Your experience really sounds wonderful. I'm sure it added a real depth to your Vietnam travels.

eurotraveller Dec 8th, 2006 05:24 AM

I wholeheartedly agree, julies! I had experiences on this solo trip that may not have occurred if I had been traveling with someone.

dperry, this experience definitely added depth to my Hanoi stay! Linh and I will be friends forever!

Cheers!

linhzom Dec 8th, 2006 06:12 AM

Oh, it's not totally because of the tourguide. It is also because Tamara is a great, wonderful, perfect tourist. I have never met such a warm-hearted traveler... she is yound from heart to appearance, really...
But if any of you wish to meet with the local, have some guide to show you off-the-beaten-path places... go and contact us.

eurotraveller Dec 8th, 2006 07:34 AM

Before anyone jumps in to say that no advertising is aloud on this forum, I need to stress that this organization does not expect anything from you! :-) They are truly interested in making sure that your experience in Hanoi is a good one.

I just instant messaged with Linh for almost an hour! She was telling me about a village she visited this past weekend that has an orphange with children who are physically and mentally handicapped due to Agent Orange. I suggested that she add this to her list of possible places to take travellers who contact her.

As a courtesy, I paid for Linh's bus fare and treated her to lunch. This was well worth the experience for me!


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