Movin' Along to see the North

Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
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Trip End Mar 21, 2013


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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, March 9, 2013

We did not let any grass grow under our feet this morning.  We were out the hotel door by 6 a.m., heading for the airport.  We had an 8:30 plane to catch for Hanoi.

Vietnam Airways is a pretty good airline by any standard.  The planes are newer, vey clean, well staffed and the ground pounders that interact with the public seem to care.  So, when we got to the airport to discover our flight delayed by 2 hours we didn't know what to think.  But, our ticket lady at the desk put us on an EARLIER flight, one that we could just make if we didn't dawdle around.  We didn't.  We actually had plenty of time.  The seats are roomy even by western sized people's standards.

Our seat mate was a nice Vietnamese gentleman from Canada, as it turns out.  He was back visiting family.  He escaped when he was 30 years old -- 28 years ago.  Turns out he was one of the boat people.  He lost a sister on his float to Malaysia.  His parents are dead now but he still has two sisters living in Vietnam. He was back visiting them and was now taking them on a holiday to the north. Very interesting guy.

An hour and forty minutes later and we were in Hanoi.  Only we were early and we had a tour guide that was meeting us at the airport.  No worries, guess this happens once in a while.  He knew right where to look for us.  We haven't learned much about him yet.  His name is Tuon, we think.  We'll have him write it out.  We know he is married with a one year old girl.  He is also studying archeology.

We start our little 6 day tour of the northwest part of the country on Monday with, we think, the same driver and car.  We think the car is a Toyota Inova.  It's a minivan, anyway.  The driver didn't try to kill us even once getting from the airport to the hotel so we are optimistic.

We are staying at the Skylark Hotel.  Very nice!  It is new.  Because of that it didn't have many ratings on either Booking.com or Agoda.  The few it did have raved about the place.  So far we see why.  The room is huge by most standards. Since we are staying for about 5 nights over the next 12 days, the tour company got us upgraded to a deluxe room.  The bed is about a king and a half size.  Even if I was in my twenties I wouldn't know what to do in a bed this size!

After a freshen up, we were escorted by the shift manager to a pharmacy so Dayna could get some decongestant for a lingering head cold.  Then, he pointed us toward the old quarter and we were off.

In search of a late lunch, we found a little Viet cafe that specialized in shellfish.  It took an act of courage to go in but we were glad we did.  It was very good. You have to recognize that the term "health inspector" has not been invented in Southeast Asia (SEA) yet.  So, you have to measure the crowd and activity to get a feel for safety and freshness.  There were no round eyes in the place and it was busy for mid-afternoon.  Both good signs.  Couldn't tell you what we ate.  The menue was entirely in Vietnamese.  But we did shoot some pictures for the autopsy should it be needed.  

It was a warm day here, about 80 degrees which is much better than in the south, but it is very humid here.  Now, we are back, resting. There are a number of interesting street cafes just in this neighborhood so we will venture out later for a light dinner and a sundowner  -- or not if we are too lazy to fight the traffic.

Tomorrow we spend the day with the Hanoi Kids.
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