Good Morning Vietnam!(..and afternoon and evening)

Trip Start Jul 13, 2009
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Trip End Jul 20, 2010


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Where I stayed
VietFun Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, February 7, 2010

We boarded our flight from Singapore to Hanoi after Romy dropped us off at the "Budget Terminal".  It looked more like a school gymnasium than an airplane terminal.  There are a number of "budget" airlines here that offer no food, no frills, just A to B for a low low price...and we will be using these airlines to get around for the next 6 months. 

Our flight on Tiger Airways was easy and quick.  We were two of 5 (I counted) Western tourists going to Hanoi.  The rest of the people on there were all carrying duty free liquor back home...and for good reason, we learned.  Liquor isn't all that cheap, unless you're getting the local rice whiskey distilled here.  But beer is as cheap as water or soda, so that makes our decision easy when selecting beverages. 

The food is incredible.  The most basic food here is called Pho, and its broth contains star anise which our 1st restaurant printed on its place mats is a main ingredient found in combating the H1N1 virus.....so who needs vaccines when you have Pho!  It's much tastier than being stabbed by needles.

Hanoi is just like any other large Asian city, but not really.  It truly has its own unique vibe going on.  We found ourselves in the Old Quarter where all the shops and businesses are centered around a lake that is said to hold some pretty magical large turtles, but the locals will say they're all gone now.  One apparently took the sword of some mystical legend to the bottom of the lake and kept it there.  Sounds like a bedtime story.  I like it though.  In America we don't have stories for the names of our lakes...they're just named after the people who found them and named them after their pet dog or favorite flower or something.

The best thing about Vietnam is the fact that the government has banned Facebook!   Hurray!  We can all get along without Facebook can't we!?! (edit: there are ways around it....just like everything else..)

We might be seriously injured in the next few weeks if we don't watch ourselves when crossing the streets here as it is just a free-for-all of motorbikes making their way at low but direct speeds.  If you walk with a blind eye to the traffic, they just might move around you.  They most likely will.  I don't know if I want to test that theory.  Traffic lights are ignored and there is constant honking and chaos, but its a controlled chaos that doesn't exist except for this half of the world.  They never hit each other somehow.

So before heading out for a few adventures, we ended our night in Hanoi by seeings some local culture that you probably won't get anywhere else in the world.  Water Puppetry!  As exciting as that sounds, it really was a great way to spend 40 minutes being entertained by little scary dolls moving about in a small pool while people dressed in traditional clothing with traditional instruments played along some amazing music for an accompanying soundtrack.  It was thought up by bored workers out in the rice paddies as a way to entertain children and themselves, and now to entertain tourists who want a change of pace. 

Like the Chinese New Year happening right now in Singapore, here it is "Tet", the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.  Everywhere we are hearing, "well...you won't be able to go on that train because of Happy New Year it will be closed down" or "restaurant will be closed for Happy New Year".  We've learned the way to say happy new year in Vietnamese, but are afraid to attempt it because if we mis-pronounce the word "Moi" we might end up saying Happy New "Breast" or something offensive...."Moi" for example can mean 6-8 different things when pronounced on a different part of the word or with different sounds.   I'd rather not offend.  Just smile and repeat it verbatim when heard.  Luckily we were able to get away for a few excursions before the new year festivities collapse the city into a ghost town that we cannot escape.
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