Day 234… Hanoi
Arrive in Hanoi very early (approx. 4am) and transfer to the hotel, where we have no rooms and 2 & a half hours to kill with nothing open and nowhere to be. I am cranky. However after brekky at hotel being pretty good,, we head out on our taxi/walking tour to see that the capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of over six million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter (where we are staying), which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.
Today is apparently a monday (i lost track of days a looong time ago) so most stuff is closed, but we do squeeze in a walking tour of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Museum (rounding out the big 3 tombs of modern leaders to see for me… Vladimir Lennin, Chairman Mao, and now President Ho Chi Minh). When we complete the walk about we jump another Cyclo tour… which turns out to be boring as all get out, but much crazier traffic. We stop at a place that does traditional Vietnamese coffee made with egg yolk and condensed milk (sounds horrible) before heading to a water puppet show. Yes… puppets in water. Kind of a horizontal marionette thing in waist deep water behind a bamboo curtain. Kinda cool new quaint. Then we hit a local restaurant where we ignore the useless guide we have and read notes under the glass on the table, written by previous eaters of food here… told by 1 random napkin to ignore the pork… too chewy. Another recommended beef with citrus, chilli and caramel… amazing!