More on Hanoi, and Some Pictures
Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
24Trip End Jul 08, 2010
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Where I stayed
I bought a USB cord to connect my camera to the hotel computer so we've finally got some pictures to show off...see below for a few of the highlights so far.
We've just returned from another excursion around the streets of Hanoi. This morning I think we were both thinking that we'd seen most of what we wanted and we were ready to move on. But then we went out again and ended up having a great morning, finding new streets, trying new food, and stumbling across new scenes.
We spent the morning sitting in an air conditioned lakeside cafe, relaxing over coffee and fruit drinks, before checking out another area to the northwest of the lake. We enjoyed our first street kebab - looked kind of like the spinning, dripping tube of meat you see at gyro shops in the US, but way better...fresh baked bread, fatty and flavorful pork (I think), pickled vegetables, and a magical sauce that pulled it all together - all for $1
Our plan is to relax in the AC of the hotel during the heat of the afternoon then head out to the night market for dinner and maybe a nighttime stroll around the lake since we've yet to see that area when the shoreline trees are lit up for the evening.
We've also booked our trip to Ha Long Bay through our hotel and will leave in the morning for a 3 day / 2 night trip aboard the Amber Gold. We have really enjoyed Hanoi and it has been a great introduction to Vietnam, but we are really looking forward to leave the chaos of the city behind and enjoy some peace and quiet...supposed to be amazing scenery, great fresh seafood on the boat, and a little bit of beach time on Cat Ba Island.
Some final thoughts as we get ready to move on from Hanoi...
The food is delicious and if you stay out of tourists restaurants and get a bit adventurous with street food, it's extremely cheap. Here's a summary of our wonderful food wanderings from yesterday (total prices for both of us):
-Breakfast in hotel (eggs, bacon, baguette and coffee) - Free
-2 coffees near Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - $2
-Banh mi pate (pate, pork and vegetables on fresh baguette) on street - 50 cents
-Fresh pineapple on street (a whole pineapple, cut and peeled for you) - $1
-Fried shrimp spring roll on street - 50 cents
-Steamed bun filled with mystery meat and hard boiled quail eggs at mall food court - 25 cents
-Fried rice with pork at mall food court - 75 cents
-Pho Gai (chicken noodle soup) at Pho 24 - $2
-2 iced coffees at Pho 24 - $2
-Coconut ice cream cone on street - 50 cents
Total Food Budget - $9.50...and we were full
Everywhere you turn there are ridiculous events happening that are so foreign to us as western tourists, but so normal to the residents here...some examples:
-On the ride from the airport we pass a scooter with a cage crammed to the brim with live pigs strapped to the back. Trailing behind the pig scooter is another full of ducks.
-I mentioned yesterday how the chaotic streets just seem to work...well for the most part. We did see at least 4 separate incidents. All were minor...mostly some screeching tires and cursing...only once did a guy actually dump his scooter and end up on the pavement (unhurt).
-I'm walking down the street on our first trip out after arrival and some guy stops me, bends down and starts pulling at my toes and my sandals strap and saying something that I eventually interpreted as "shoe glue!" He's carrying a tube of glue and a brush and seems to think that my sandals are in disrepair which can only be remedied by his services.
-Street badminton and another sport, which I call foot badminton, are very popular here
-Nose picking is not taboo.
Finally, I feel I can't close out the entry on Hanoi without describing perhaps the most random event out of all the other random events we've seen so far...we are walking down a street in a previously unexplored area yesterday afternoon when we cross the street into a small park. There are some guys casually sitting on benches around a grassy area, a typical enough scene that could be anywhere in the world. Except of course for - right in the middle of said grassy area is a full-on cockfight! There was clearly some serious money changing hands here and we sat and watched a bit (and of course I took a video) but it seemed to really drag out and was not nearly as action packed as I expected a streetside cockfight to be...no cheering, no blood...just a few roosters pecking the bejesus out of each other. So we moved on...