Thursday, February 28, 2013

SE Asia Days 20 & 21 - Hanoi again and again

So chalk it up to poor planning, or as I like to call it "free traveling", but we had another almost two days in Hanoi. That means we would spend a total of about 5 days in this city. My first post about Hanoi was titled "I love Hanoi". This post could be "I tire of Hanoi". I like the city a lot, but we've seen as much of it as we need to for now. For our last two days in Vietnam, we pretty much just caught up on sleep, ate some good street food, at good restaurant food, and took pictures.
After we got off the train at 5:30 a.m., we wandered around for a bit because nothing was open. Finally, Highland Coffee opened.
If this is the"Starbucks of "Vietnam" as the guidebook said, then Starbucks needs to charge more and never clean their bathrooms.
We went to the hotel to see if we could check in early, and I think we were the only guests, so they let us.
We had booked a room at this hotel before our trip to Sapa because of the very cool decor in the lobby and because it was a little nicer than the low budget places we had stayed all along - going out in style we are.
The owner collects antique bicycles and motorcycles, and they had a turtle and koi fish in their pond. Plus rocks! It called to me.
The room was nice too. Very spacious and with a private balcony.

The roof top garden was a lovely place to catch a turtle sunning himself or, as we found out later, to drink a beer.
The view from the rooftop garden was ok.
We didn't do much this day except get caught up on computer stuff and go out to a really fantastic dinner at Namaste Hanoi. Yes, I know it is un-Vietnamese-y to eat Indian food for our last night in Vietnam, but we really wanted something yummy, the restaurant got great reviews, it was close to our hotel, and to be totally honest, we were not in love with Vietnamese food. The food at Nameste Hanoi was better than any Indian restaurant we have in Utah! We sat next to a group of Austrailian expats. They knew Christine, the woman we talked to in Ching Mai who gave us recommendations for HaLong Bay and Sapa. Small world.

We had to fly out at 5 p.m., which gave us plenty of time to have one last look around the city. We went to the Duan Muan market, a traditional market. Mostly, there were a lot of clothes for sale, but the middle was full of herbs
And dried fish. It really smelled.

That took a good hour. Then we stood on a street corner for about 20 minutes and logged all the huge loads being transported by scooter.

This guy was especially crafty; we watched him load up the bike and speed away - nothing tied down, just balancing.
There were lots of big things
And long things

When you are delivering things, you need to call ahead to confirm the delivery address, right?
Good grief!
How many people can a scooter carry? Earlier in the day, we had seen two adults and two children, but this afternoon the max we saw was three adults.

I think the baby in between these two was sleeping.

I will probably have to come back and take a master zen scooter driving course in Hanoi.

After scooter watching, we walked around Hoan Kiem Lake again. There was a cool looking pagoda, but we had only 80,000 VND left, not really even enough to buy lunch, so we didn't buy passage across the big red bridge to the pagoda.

Eventually it was time to catch our flight back to Bangkok. We will have two nights there, and then back to the USA.

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