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March 31st 2019
Published: April 1st 2019
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In Hanoi we were staying in an exquisite little place, the Essence Spa Hotel, right in the heart of the Old Quarter. We had stayed at it's sister hotel here last time, the Essence Palace, and had enjoyed it so much we booked again not realising there were two of them. Initially we were disappointed at the change but realised after a day or two that it was probably an even better choice but not by much. Both are in the Old Quarter and right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of naked commerce and gritty daily life. It’s been much cooler in Hanoi than Saigon. Almost half the temperature - one day’s high 19° compared to 31 in Saigon. It has warmed up over the few days getting up to 29 now.

Lyn has been out at work every day from 8.00 in the morning including weekends, at various functions; education fairs where there are about 50 NZ education institutions all set up in a big hotel ballroom, each with their own desk and interpreters, and school visits at other times to meet teachers and students. There has also been an evening function at the Apollo Centre as in Saigon.

I’ve pretty much been walking through the streets, stopping for coffee and gaping at the sights and sounds. Also catching hop on hop off buses to get around and getting off at various sights. Also a little shopping. Had to bargain for a jacket to stay warm in - I’m not a very good bargainer. I did better with my sandals and running shoes. Yes, running shoes. (One can always dream or wallow in nostalgia). Meanwhile Lyn has been too busy to shop :-(

We've had some great meals in the streets and also in our hotel's restaurant which has a pretty good reputation according to the oracles on Trip Adviser. It WAS damn good. Also some relaxing drinks on rooftop bars which for Lyn has been a beaut way to let down after a day of maintaining a positive, sunny and Kiwi-friendly demeanour for all the Vietnamese visitors. We have been spending a lot of the down time with Maria from Wellington Girls College; she and Lyn enjoy each other's company as do I.

You don't really have to visit a lot of sights or sites in a place like this. Just being amongst the differentness in the streets, watching the sights and sounds, eating the food, is enough of a sensory overload.

Lyn had been working very hard to attract a very talented Vietnamese student who was in NZ earlier this year after winning a scholarship to visit the Wellington area and check out a few schools. She visited Paraparaumu College with her father and spent a day there. Today she had a last meeting with the student and her family and they have chosen Paraparaumu. Yay!!!

Then later were at a function hosted by Haike Manning’s company which had organised the competition the girl had won.

The staff at the hotel serenaded us a couple of times. Guitar and great voices. We got The Beatles and John Legend.

Love Hanoi. Would go back like a shot. Saigon, I love as well but if I was polygamous it would be number two wife.

And now to Da Nang.

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