Vietnam 2016 – Trip Report 15

Hanoi

Well, the ‘coming good’, didn’t happen.

The night’s sleep, unfortunately, didn’t really include a great deal of it.

And now, in the cold hard light of day, the hope that it was a 24 hour thing, had gone down the toilet.

Which is kind of ironic, seeing as where I spent a bit of time last night…..

So, the beginning of our last two full days in Hanoi.

Only two more opportunities to have pho over the road with the locals.

Can’t do it……

I just can’t stomach the thought of a hot bowl of noodle soup. And I know I wouldn’t be able to eat it all anyway, and that would just make me feel worse.

So, it’ll have to be breakfast on the balcony again, next door.

Not that that’s a bad thing….

We head over, and, sure enough, there’s room outside.

What’s wrong with these people??????

We take our spots, and then head up to fill our plates.

As usual, the food looks good. But I know I just won’t be able to eat it.

I settle for fruit; pineapple and watermelon.

Good fruit, and I’m not unhappy about eating that, but I was hoping for something a little more….., ummm….., less fruity.

It’s not to be…..

Breakfast done, and feeling slightly better now that I’m on the move, we head up to Dong Xuan market.

 

It’s shopping day. Unfortunately……

Been putting it off for a while, but time is running out, and don’t want to be mucking around with it on our last day here.

But geez, I hate shopping……

We walk around the market. Just looking, apparently.

If only we had a plan. An idea of what we’re looking for. And for whom.

But no, planning is a male thing, and shopping is a female thing.

It’s never going to work….

Being a wholesale market, not all the vendors are keen to sell you stuff. But a lot are.

If you find something that interests you, pick it up and take a closer look. If the stall holder doesn’t acknowledge you, move on to another one. You’ll soon find one that will happily make a sale.

It doesn’t take long before I spot something that I’ve been meaning to buy.

And I’ve only been meaning to buy it since October 2014. Yep, another one of my little regrets about to be rectified.

Phins! Vietnamese coffee filters.

And I can’t not get them now, seeing as we bought coffee yesterday with our Hanoi Kids.

A friendly smile from the female vendor, and I know I’m in.

Now the decision between the large, or the small, phin.

Pfffft, when is small ever better?????

Large it is, now for some friendly bargaining.

We make a deal, and have some fun in the process. The best way to do business.

She also sells those coconut bowls, coasters, along with all the other souvenir bits and pieces that you see out on the streets.

To help her, with more sales, and to help me, with less stops at various other stalls, we take the opportunity to tick a few more purchases off.

Win, win, hey? 😉

First lot of buying done, we head off to look for….., well, we’re not really sure what we’re looking for. Which is a bit of a problem.

And is one of the reasons I hate shopping so much…..

As we’re wondering aimlessly around the market, I notice a young boy; maybe ten years old?; looking at me.

He has this great big smile on his face, and while I’m not really in the mood to be smiling; mainly because I’m shopping; I give him a big smile back, as well as a wave.

His smiling face is now beaming.

Just another nice ‘little’ moment.

But it made me think about that. The fact that I seemed to be experiencing these ‘little’ moments, less and less.

Maybe it was as it had always been in Hanoi. Maybe I was just noticing it more, now?

Perhaps it was because I had just been spoilt after Quy Nhon and Pu Luong???

Hmmm, not sure, but it was certainly making me think…..

Shopping done; or as much as we could decide on what to buy; we headed back outside and made our way back towards the lake. But in a round about sort of way.

That aimless type walking thing….

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Caphe Sua Da combined with history – the Old Quarter Gate.

We stumbled across the Old Quarter Gate again, and seeing as there was a little café opposite it, and seeing as we were yet to have a caphe sua da today, well, it was obviously just meant to be.

So we did.

And once again, it was good. As was the people watching.

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You don’t have to be doing something, to actually do something, in Hanoi.

 

Suitably rested and refreshed, we headed on.

Next stop was another coffee place, we just happened to stumble across. Not a ‘coffee drink’ place; although I think you could actually get a coffee there; but a ‘sell you packets of coffee’, place.

Seeing as we now have phins; perfect!

I even got to sniff the various varieties before deciding which one.

End result – two lots of 200 gram bags for 100 000 dong.

I don’t know if that’s good, but it was about half what I paid yesterday.

So even if it wasn’t that good, it was certainly ‘gooder’ than yesterday.

With the smell of coffee in our bag, we walked on, eventually reaching ‘shoe’ street.

For some reason we rarely end up in shoe street, but it’s a street that I really like. Even if you have no intention of buying shoes, it’s worth a look.

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The colours of Shoe Street.

We then come across a lady selling hats and caps. Which was rather fortuitous, as I needed a new cap, and one for the boy back home as a present, wasn’t a bad idea either.

Dusted off the bargaining skills; hadn’t really done much this trip; and had a bit of fun with the lady in the process.

Make sure you always do it with a smile. Always.

We head back towards the hotel, and turn into our street.

“Morning, Hai!”, I say, thinking that sounds pretty good. But also remembering that I’m running out of time to get that photo, as well as show him what I need to.

Up to our room for a rest, but we’re back too early for the room cleaners.

They’re very apologetic, which they should never have to be.

That’s okay, we’ll come back later.

Out the hotel, and off down the street. The opposite way we normally go, though.

What to do, what to do…..

Hey, it’s been just over an hour since our last caphe sua da! Let’s do that.

And around the second corner, we find our place.

Plastic stools on the footpath, along with a few locals. Perfect!

We take a seat, and the guy comes out to take our order.

“Two caphe sua da’s, please”, I say.

I get a blank look.

Puzzled, I try again, this time holding up two fingers.

He doesn’t understand.

I’ve been here almost two weeks, and this now worries me. Have I been doing this wrong the whole time?

“Caphe sua da”, this time pointing at the menu.

“Ahhh, okay”, he says, and he disappears to fill our order.

Hmmm, that was much harder than it should have been…..

We sit there and do two of my three favourite things that I like to do in Hanoi; (replacing coffee with beer is the third, just in case you’re wondering….) sipping and watching.

A shoe shine guy comes along and asks the local guy next to us if he’d like his shoes polished.

He does!

Which surprises me. Not sure why, but it just does.

But gee I’m glad he did. The effort and intensity, as well as the care he took, really impressed me. It was really interesting watching him do his thing.

img_4122
His pride in his work is impressive!

He spent a good 10 minutes working on them, before he was happy enough to hand them back.

I’m not 100% sure what he charged him, but it looked like a 10 000 dong note was handed over.

And interestingly, well, I thought it was interesting, it was the guy with the now polished shoes’ mate, who paid!

So yeah, not only did it seem ridiculously cheap, but he also got out of paying.

Wish I had friends like that…..

I think even the little brown poodle, sitting on one of the plastic stools, was impressed with how hard shoe shine guy worked.

And yep, the dog was sitting on the stool…..

img_4125
Told you…

Full of coffee, as well as new images and memories, we headed back to the hotel for that ‘rest’ thing.

The timing wasn’t too bad, either. Those ominous looking dark clouds had finally come through with their threat.

Rest done, but not really feeling much better, we headed out for our afternoon excursion.

Destination? The Women’s Museum.

I’d actually heard good things about it, but yeah, hmmm………

In the end, I only agreed to go because Lisa promised me that we could go to the Men’s Museum afterwards.

I hadn’t actually heard anything about the Men’s one before, but it seemed like a fair deal…..

It had been raining on and off, so we grabbed an umbrella from downstairs and headed out. First stop, something for lunch, and as usual, banh mi was at the top of the list.

But without pate, today….

We’d noticed a banh mi stall; more like a hole in the wall; opposite the café we’d been at earlier. And seeing as it was kind of on the way, we went there.

Pate-less banh mi ordered, and devoured, we then made our way to the museum.

The decision to bring the umbrella along proved to be a very good one, as at times, it was really coming down.

Finally into the Women’s Museum, and yep, it’s mainly about women.

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Still looking for the Men’s Museum…

But it is interesting.

But parts of it are also quite sad.

Thought provoking, too.

It does give you a bit more of an understanding about what women; not all women; in Vietnam need to do. And what they need to go through, in order to, well, survive.

I kind of knew that they had a pretty hard life, but I didn’t fully appreciate the hardships that some had to deal with.

Men also got a mention. But only occasionally……

Their mention came mainly as the groom, and what was required of him around the time of the wedding.

Hmmm, seems being an Aussie bloke isn’t actually that bad…..

As we made our way up the building, my degree of feeling crap also rose. Having to read all those information cards probably wasn’t helping, but seriously, it was becoming quite difficult.

Towards the end of our visit, I looked out the window to see that it was pelting down outside.

Hmmm, I thought, what sort of stuff would you do in Hanoi when it’s coming down cats and dogs?

I’d never thought about that before, as we’d never experienced rain here.

It was then that I realised that we were doing exactly what you would do, if it was raining.

Hmmm, that worked out well!!!, I thought.

But also feeling slightly dumb at the same time…..

Finally, knowing everything you can possibly know about Vietnamese women, we headed out into a very wet Hanoi.

Back to the hotel, for another rest, as well as some paracetamol.

Kind of works, but after a while it’s that time of the day again.

But because it’s too wet to sit on plastic seats, and drink beer out of plastic cups, it will have to be the balcony.

Geez, and I’m really spewing about that…..

I head off, leaving Lisa to do her thing, and as soon as I get outside a forgotten thought pops into my head.

The car transfer to the airport that we require the day after tomorrow.

And rather than ask our hotel to arrange it for us, I decide that as we’re now Vietnam veterans, I’m going to organise it myself.

So yep, out the hotel door, walk across the street, veering slightly left, and into the Hanoi Transfer Service office.

Gee, I’m like an old pro, what, with being able to spend all that time hunting down what I was looking for…..

Our flight to HCMC is at 7.00am, so the young, incredibly friendly, girl, suggests a pick up at 5.00am.

Geez, who booked the bloody 7.00am flight……???

Anyway, while she’s filling out the paperwork, I notice a plate she has with some kind of fruit cut up on it.

It’s plum, apparently, and she offers me some.

But you don’t just eat it like that.

“No?”, I respond.

“No, you dip it in the salt, first”, she says, kind of in a way, that that is something I should know.

I’d seen, and tried, the salt and fruit thing once or twice in Vietnam, before.

I didn’t really get it then, and I still don’t, but hey, when in Rome…..

So, transfer organised, for the total sum of $12 USD, which when converted, (obviously in their favour) came to 260 000 dong.

Just pointing that last bit out, just in case anyone might be thinking that I would be paying for anything over there, in a currency other than dong.

Job done, I headed back across the road and up the stairs to my balcony.

While the beer is good, I do have to work a little harder to get it down. But that’s okay, I’m pretty good at what I do, and I’m more than happy to work through it.

The view down below, while not as busy as it normally is, due to the rain, is still more than interesting enough.

The interaction with the two English business men, sitting a couple of stools from me, is, well, just typical of the vast majority of interactions I’ve had with other ‘tourists’ over the last few days.

I don’t know, perhaps just a bit too difficult to be friendly???

Left to entertain myself, I continued to soak up ‘my’ street, from ‘my’ balcony.

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May not be elegant, but it’s effective!

Apart from feeling ordinary, I was still more than happy.

I’ve said it before; I love it up there.

Back to the room to get ready for dinner, but to also make a decision on where that dinner will be. Which was more difficult than it should be. This thing that I have, just makes me struggle with food. Both eating it, as well as thinking about eating it.

It kind of just turns me off wanting to eat.

In the end, we decide to return to our BBQ place.

Two reasons; it’s good food, and it’s safe. Safe, in the way that I know what it is. Which at the moment, is what I need.

We head on up towards beer corner, and around to Ma May street. It has a really different feel tonight. In fact, all of the streets have a different feel.

It’s much, much quieter, because of how wet it is. It’s strange, and it just doesn’t have it’s usual vibrancy. Interesting to see, but I’m not sure I’d want to see it like this, too often.

We get to the BBQ place and have no problem getting a table. But this time, because of the rain, it has to be inside.

Oh well…..

Once again, the food is good, and while it is quieter than usual, it still has a fair bit of atmosphere about it.

We ask our waiter to take a photo of us, and it’s just as well he’s good at his waiting job. At some point, hopefully, we will manage to achieve a clear photo at this restaurant.

Hopefully……

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Just the usual blurry photo…

Dinner done, we head off back to the hotel.

Well, that was the plan.

Not really concentrating, we end up on a street we weren’t supposed to be on.

Don’t ask me how; I have no idea.

I’ll just blame Lisa……

We keep walking, not at all worried, but just waiting to come across something we recognise.

And then we see it.

The Old Quarter Gate.

Really!!!!????

Geez, how long have we been here, now!?

I can’t even blame the bloody map…..

We get ourselves back on track, and head off in the direction of the lake.

It actually works out okay in the end, because Lisa finds a shop that looks like it sells something that she needs.

But that’s her story…..

Finally back to the hotel, for the beer on the bed thing, as well as a little TripAdvisor.

And all to the sounds of a pretty impressive storm happening outside. A storm that I tried to photograph; but failed at, rather dismally, I might add.

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I tried…

But yes, unlike my photos, it was pretty impressive.

Eventually off to sleep, to the sound of torrential rain; which was nice; and knowing all too well that tomorrow was our last full day in Hanoi; which was not nice.

Damn you!, goodbyes and last days…..
Cheers,

Scott

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