Thursday 29th April
After arriving in Hanoi on Wednesday, Jono and I took it easy that afternoon chilling about the Old Quarter – this is the original city of Hanoi a mix of french colonial buildings, tight busy streets a thousand motorbikes going in every direction and a range of smells from fresh coffee, to fresh seafood and ‘interesting’ drain smells. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is meant to be a little more reserved and traditional than Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Last time Cel and I were here we found it a pretty intense place, second time around I’m loving it; so much hustle and bustle with people everywhere and a grid of streets that are more like a maze than an intricate network.
So day 2 Jono and I set out to get to grips with the crazy place, we hit the pavement for a couple of hours. A couple of white guys towering over all locals, pulling out a Lonely Planet now and then surprisingly (?) gets a lot of attention from prospective motorbike taxi drivers, shoe shiners, restaurant owners…etc so it was not uncommon to pull out the words ‘No Thanks’ 100 times on any given street! The markets we passed through had everything under the sun that you could ever want and plenty of stuff that you would never ever want… The food markets were sweet, the food is sold fresh – the fish still moving the prawns still squirming and the frogs still leaping. We went into a fabric market that was literally an enormous warehouse full of fabric – you could cloth the world with the amount of crap these guys had. After an hour of intense walking, we managed to find a small local cafe so we pulled up our mini stools, grabbed a couple of strong iced coffees and munched down on a freshly baked Pan au Chocolat – not bad going.
A bit of dinner at a local spot and it was onto Bia Hoi junction, an intersection of 2 roads one which two of the corners serve up fresh Bia Hoi – a local Czech beer brew that is made daily to be sold that day only – a glass costs around $0.28 so you can get a fair bit of diesel for $10!!