NOSTALGIA, as they say, comes from the old Greek words “nostos” (return home) and “algos” (pain). In its original ancient context, the word loosely translates to “a suffering caused by the desire to come back home; homesickness. Can you really feel nostalgic then after setting foot in a destination you’ve visited for the very first time and leaving it after a few days? My reply is a resounding YES.

It was my first time to visit Hanoi and yet everything feels familiar: the beautiful cacophony made by the motorbikes passing by; the balmy air enveloping the city of lakes; and the endless warmth of the locals we met during our holiday.

Among the many delightful things that surprised us in the “city of lakes,” it was the bún chả dish (grilled pork and noodles) we had for lunch in a small streetside that still lingers the most on my mind. I can still recall the garlicky taste of the meat, the freshness of the greens, and the silken noodles that were swimming in our delicious broth.

Also equally remarkable is the overnight cruise we had at Halong Bay (via Apricot Cruise). Although the bus journey from the city to the docks was a grueling four-hour ride, our tour group’s destination was worthwhile nevertheless. The emerald-colored bay with the limestone pillars & ethereal tiny islets as its backdrop were beyond stunning. I had the luxury of lounging at our boat’s rustic sundeck from sunset to almost midnight while savoring the color transitions in the sky turning from delicate orange to royal velvet hues.

For our last two days in Hanoi, we checked in at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, a 5-star paradise slightly tucked away from the sweet pandemonium of the Old Quarter. As an IHG Rewards Member, we got the privilege of getting our room upgraded to the Over-water Panoramic View Room. Aaahh, the space and the view in our own bedroom was beyond our expectations!

Nostalgic, I’m now back in Singapore writing this blog post with my mind and heart left in Vietnam.

Enjoy the photos I’ve taken during our holiday:

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