Day 2 – Hanoi

24 Feb

Alarm woke me up at 7am … That’s midnight your time!  Decided to give it a few more minutes, but made it to breakfast by 8am. A very nice selection available.  Took a banana for later.

Bus left at 8:30am, now with 18 of us, for a trip to see Ho Chi Minh’s museum and mausoleum.  Only saw the outside of both. Lots of people in uniform and a changing of the guard later and we headed off to the presidential palace, where “Uncle Ho” lived in a tiny house and then a stilt house. He tried to get the prime minister to move into the other room of his two room house. He found an excuse not to! Walked further to the One Pillar Pagoda – the name says it all. Saw some Durian fruit being sold but refused the temptation. Bought some postcards and stamps.  Much cheapness. If you’re reading this and don’t get one, I either don’t know you or don’t like you.  Take it personally!

Also headed to the Temple of Literature which featured the teacher Confucious, and some Kings, who appeared to be second to the great teacher.

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Ran a bit late getting back, as there was lots to see.  Julian and I are currently vying for the back marker position.

Driving back past the Military museum and Vinh gave us a recommendation for lunch.  Amanda, Dave, Julian, Chrissie and I headed off to give it a try and I tried Pigeon Porridge and pork in a rice pancake.

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Too much you may think.  Did I also mention the beer and the bottle of Vietnamese glutonous wine? 25p it said on the menu.  Was served in a plastic bottle with a thimble to drink from. When we got the bill we had been charged for 18 portions.  Not complaining.  Staggered out with half of it left. Julian, Dave and I will finish it off later.  Still had the total bill of about £5 each.

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Back to the hotel for a blog update and to wash off the morning sweat.  No sun yet, but it is getting warm.  No jumper required! Ever. But not yet subjected the world to my knees.

In the afternoon we headed into the Old Quarter. This was a test of nerve as we had lots of streets to cross, with the simple instruction to keep walking at a steady pace and all the motorbikes will avoid you. A couple of narrow misses later and we all got there in one piece. On the way we passed the street where the dogs are killed for meat and hung up. Didn’t go there. Not eaten dog yet – that I know of. Apparently it is a delicacy, although our tour guide was in no rush to recommend it.

Arrived at the “Lake of the returned sword”. This meant there was a nice breeze. Vinh took us to the water puppet theatre and we all wanted tickets for an evening show. He then took us up three flights if stairs to the city view coffee shop, where I tried a caramel jelly freeze. Definitely had some coffee in it. And jelly! Everyone else was wearing a jacket and, three storeys up with a strong breeze and only a t shirt, I was beginning to feel cold!
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Amanda, Jane and I escaped early to visit the pagoda in the middle of the lake whilst the rest drank more beer.
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Turtle in the middle was no longer alive – died 7 years ago, but a brozen statue was there instead. Another shrine featuring everyday items of food – someone really should use them, rather than see them rot!

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We met back up with the group outside the water puppet theatre and I paid to take photos inside. Very strange taking photos inside a theatre as I usually spend most of the time telling people not to. The puppet show took place in a large water pond which was the stage with no puppeteers in sight. Lots of splashing, dancing and fishing showing off the different aspects of life and beliefs in Vietnam. Only at the end did the puppeteers make an appearance – wearing waders.
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Hungarians obviously don’t have zoom lens.

Or regard for others.

Leaving the theatre, we headed for some more food and walked through the old quarter at night. Very different. At the centre was a place to buy 4 draft beers for $1. Understandable it was very busy. We found a restaurant in a side street, but there weren’t enough seats for us all so we sat outside on tiny plastic stools until the police came along the street and we were ushered inside by the restaurant staff. 18 people standing in a space not big enough for them whilst all the paying punters were still eating wasn’t overly popular with either side. Eventually we glared long enough at people and ended up getting a table together. I stupidly went for a starter and a main course. The starter was a spring roll with caramelised chicken. I had missed the bit about it being roll your own. And the size of a small elephant.

Never mind. I still managed to fit in the sweet and sour chicken for the main course as well. Diet starts tomorrow. Always tomorrow.

All for less than $10.

Slow walk back to the hotel, whilst trying to work out what we are going to do in our free time tomorrow. Also need to get out of the hotel by noon and pack an overnight bag for our trip to Halong Bay.

People are still tired, so the leftover wine may have to wait until the bus trip tomorrow. Always something new to look forward to.

Until tomorrow.

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