We were taking a walk near Hanoi Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) near the old quarter, Vietnam and we noticed a beautiful yellow old building across the road. We were intrigued and thought this yellow wall background will be a good backdrop for some cool pictures. So we clicked a few pics and then began to wonder what this place might be..
Upon closer inspection, we got to know that that was the main Post Office of Hanoi. Before visiting Vietnam, we had heard of tourists visiting post offices in Ho Chi Min city and Hanoi as they are one of the oldest postal institutions in the world. I remembered reading somewhere that one can send post cards to different countries from there with minimal charges.
As soon as I told this to Rosa, she was like “WOW!! Let’s send a letter to my mom”.So with a lot of excitement (and a little apprehension), we went inside the post office. And boy! It was beautiful inside.. And fairly big.
Once inside, It felt like a normal post office with some local people going about their day to day work and we felt a little out of the place. Just when we thought of abandoning the plan and stepped outside, it started pouring. We didn’t have an umbrella with us, so we thought we might as well utilise this time by asking how much will it cost to send a postcard to India.There was a little bit of struggle to decide who should go to the counter to ask this, as we felt silly asking something like that. 😀
Finally, Rosa asked one of the employees how we can send a post card to India. The lady behind the counter turned out to be very helpful (like all the other Vietnamese people that we interacted with. Duh). She asked us to get a post card and told us the amount of stamps we would need to send it to India.
We had seen a few street vendors selling postcards and stamps just outside the post office (there’s one inside the post office as well. It charges slightly more for the same thing as the street vendors).. As it was still raining, we got the postcard and the stamps from the vendor inside the post office for 30, 000 VND (approx $1.2 or ₹90). The stamp we needed was of 20,000 VND (approx $1 or ₹ 60).
We wrote our message, put down the address and gave it at the counter. Super easy process.
We were so excited thinking how our parents will react when they would receive this. To maintain the surprise, we didn’t tell them anything about the letter.
After waiting for 10-15 days, when we didn’t hear about the letter from anyone, Rosa finally asked her mom. And surprise, surprise- her mom hadn’t received it. She asked her mom to go to the local post office and check if it’s somehow missed being delivered.
It’s been more than 3 months now, and her mom still hasn’t received the postcard. LoL.
We have couple of theories about what might have happened:
May be the address was wrong?
They might be delivering to urban areas in India only?
Should we have opted for speed post (the price was almost 3-4 times higher)?
Did the postcard reach India and Indian postal service lost it?
Or May be the letter is still on it’s way and some day it will arrive and surprise us as well…
We finally showed the pictures of the postcard we had taken at the post office to our parents. They were really happy that we tried something like that. They told us how they used to communicate with their parents through letters only when they were young and studying or working away from their homes.
So if you are in Hanoi/Ho chi Minh city next time, do visit the Post Office and send a letter to your loved ones (we recommend to opt for Speedpost). Still, there’s no guarantee that the letter will reach where you want it to, but this gesture will definitely bring a smile on the faces of the people you love…