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.

 

Hanoi Junction

A typical Hanoi intersection, no lights, no road rules just keep moving and find a gap

 

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.

 

Hanoi Streets

Jono dominating the streets

 

Hanoi Market

Perfect chance for an AS

 

Hanoi Markets

Fish filleting Vietnamese style…

 

Hanoi Streets

Line-up of scooters on the road

 

Hanoi Markets

Fresh produce on the street for sale

 

After that we carried on through the streets, passing many a Vietnamese carrying a whole pane of glass on the back of a motorbike, or a kitchen flume or 10 crates of beer; these guys know how to maximise the potential of a scooter. Lunch brought us some home comforts, a big pizza, fries and a coke; sometimes you just have to let yourself go western for one meal. It was then onto Hoan Kiem lake for a lap and to work out why they had encircled parts of the boardwalk with razor wire….turns out because there were hundreds of fireworks sitting there waiting to go off in celebration of the Nth Vietnamese independence (35i’sh years).  We’ll be heading to watch the show tonight (Friday) – bound to be intense as the Asian cultures normally know how to let off a firework or two.
Hoah Kiem Lake

Saving myself 10,000 DONG ($0.80 NZD) by getting a photo by the bridge and not on it!

 

Hoan Kiem Lake

The monument in the middle of Hoan Kiem lake alight as part of the Independence celebrations

 

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!!

 

Bia Hoi Junction

The view from Bia Hoi junction – the other Bia Hoi outfit.

We’re off to the fireworks tonight and have booked our trip out to Halong Bay leaving Monday Sunday morning – plenty of swimming, kayaking and soaking up the sun amongst the islands of Halong. Will have coverage of that once we’re back!

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