Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Return to Hanoi

I was so relieved that the night train from Sapa down to Hanoi was much smoother than the jarring night ride I experienced when I went to Sapa. I suppose when trains go down hill, the herky jerky action is less. I arrived in Hanoi at daybreak and quickly found a cafe that served some of that delicious Vietnamese coffee along with a delicious egg and vegetable sandwich.

After breakfast and second cup of coffee, I started walking from the train station area to the old Quarter looking for the Rising Dragon Hotel on Hang Be Street. It was one of the Lonely Planet recommended hotels in the old Quarter. I found the Rising Dragon Hotel, but it turned out it was part of a chain of hotels and not the one I was looking for. The manager of this hotel asked her bellhop to give me a ride on his motorbike over to the Rising Dragon Hotel that I was looking for. That was a pretty exciting ride through the weaving traffic of Hanoi. Too bad I didn't have my video camera going, but I was hanging on for dear life.

It was still early morning and as I was checking in, the staff asked me if I wanted to have breakfast since it was included in the price of the room---about $19/ night. Too bad I had already had a big breakfast, but I did have another cup of delicious coffee.

After freshening up I headed to Lake Hoan Kiem and the Jade Island there that has the Temple of the Jade Mountain. The red Huc Bridge is the one I crossed over to get to the temple.

Just past the bridge is this Ngoc Son Pagoda where this fellow is burning up fake money as an offering. I wonder if it is better to burn real money. This fire keeps going so the fake money must be acceptable. I can recall seeing some of the stores in the Old Quarter that were selling this money---US dollars seemed popular---along with toy cars, animals, houses, etc.

This is the pagoda with lots of incense sticks burning that worshipers had left behind.

Here is the view of Hoan Kiem Lake from the pagoda area.

By now the temperature here is about 100 degrees and I am drenched with sweat. I was thinking of two choices: return to the hotel for a shower and some A/C, or find a great Bia spot to sip a cold beer and people watch. I chose the beer.


While I was cooling off, the Bia parlor across the street was busy with resupplying the kegs of beer. No Budweiser Clydesdale or beer trucks for this guy. He has loaded up his motorbike with five kegs---empties at that. I would have loved to see how many full ones he could carry.

After cooling off a bit, I headed up the night market street to check out the wholesale market of Hanoi. there were all sorts of items for sale primarily to retail store owners.

Here is the hat section I found rather colorful.

As night fell, the nearby street was closed to traffic and the night market began getting set up.


After leaving the night market, I decided to eat at one of the many rooftop restaurants that were found around Hoan Kiem Lake.

It seems like there are a lot more people out in the evening as the weather cools off from a high of 102 today to a more pleasant 85 degrees around 8PM.

On Sunday, I decided to explore the park surrounding the Presidential Building and the Ho Chi Minh Tomb. Again, the weather was in the 100s. There were lots of families, young people and old as well that converged on this park area. Sales of cold drinks and ice cream soared.

Here is a family of four heading to the park with the Tomb in the distant background.

This is the golden Presidential residence which is on the park grounds and near the Tomb.



I posed with each of these girls with the guard and the Ho Chi Minh Tomb behind us. This happens a lot as I travel throughout SE Asia and China. I must be in hundreds of photo albums and cell phone photo libraries. We couldn't convince the good looking guard to pose with us though.


Here is the One Pillar Pagoda which has been rebuilt after the French destroyed it when they left Hanoi in defeat in the mid 1950s. It is a very popular spot and one that I found very welcoming on this very hot day because of the many shade trees and ice cream vendors.


On Sunday there was a big line to go through Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House.


I passed by the Flag tower of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long complex on my way back to the Old Quarter. it was built in 1812 and is 41 meters high with the flag. The complex now houses the Vietnam Military Museum.


I looked around Hanoi for a snake restaurant like the one I went to in Hue in 2002, but could not find one. Here is a picture of me back in 2002, when I was playing with my food. The bottles behind me contain a snake and are filled with rice whisky. If you drink this whisky, you are suppose to gain strength and virility. they say it also helps alleviate arthritis.


On the morning of my AirAsia flight from Hanoi to Bangkok, the weather dramatically changed. The rain was just pouring down as I left the hotel. it was a good thing I was not taking a motoTaxi out to the airport. Instead the hotel staff arranged for me to share a taxi with a fellow from the Netherlands. His mother was Indonesian and his father Dutch, and when he was young, his family moved from Indonesia to the Netherlands. He, his brothers and family run a very successful Indonesian restaurant in Holland. This was his first trip to Hanoi, but he makes frequent trips back to Indonesia.

On to Bangkok.


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