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Published: December 16th 2008
Despite our flight being delayed due to strong rains (KL mid-afternoon regular occurence), we landed in Hanoi without any real hassles, quickly made it through customs, picked up our bags in record fast time and headed to the ATM where we proceeded to withdraw the some of 2 million dong. Its a strange feeling to hold in your hands, the sum of 2 million, even if the exchange rate is 17 000 to 1.
Our taxi driver started teaching us Vietnemese on the way into town. We discovered elements of French and Chinese incorporated into the language, so I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fully compartamentalize all these languages again. It's fun to once again be called "Madame" after 18 months French free.
We have already resigned ourselves to gaining much weight on this trip. The Vietnemese food is sweet and spicy, super flavourful and cheap, whether its a noodle bowl or rice and fish. On the other side of the spectrum, expensive for Vietnam but super cheap compared to Malaysia or China, is gourmet French food. The bagette here is the best I've had, Asia or Canada. Last night we just enjoyed a platter of pickles,
sliced meats and cheese with bagette, like I used to have as a little girl when we lived in Germany. And the beer! Well, you sit outside and get homemade draft beer for about 30 cents a glass. No, this trip will not be good for our wastelines.
The coffee in Vietnam is wonderful. Its incredibly strong, and potent. For the first time in years, I feel a caffeine buzz off a single cup of coffee. While I'm not a big fan of having it mixed with sweetened condensed milk, as is their preference, I'm learning how to get fresh milk instead.
The very best coffee we have tried so far is Weasel #8, which is surprising because we ordered it more out of a dare than anything else. The coffee berries are first eaten by ... yes a weasel...and then regurgitated by the same weasel. Craig and I debate why the coffee we tried was called Weasel #8, but perhaps Weasel #8 is particularly talented at regurgitation, or his stomach acid has particular properties which release the best flavour and caffeine potential in the beans. At any rate, the coffee is percolated directly into a glass of
sweetened condensed milk. Once this process finishes, you pour it over ice, and well, it kicks Tim Hortons Ice Cap Butt, hands down. It tastes good, and wow what a kick. Thinking when we move back to NB we may start raising weasels in the back yard.
As is the norm, we are not taking it easy. We have been to the History Museum, Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House, the Temple of Literature, and have seen Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, the statue of Lenin and the Opera House. But the highlight thus far, hands down was the water puppet theatre.
This art form was developed over a thousand years ago, and was originally performed in rivers, lakes and rice paddies. Now its indoors, and the puppetteers perform in a pool within the auditorium. You can't see the puppeteers as they are behind a screen, but they manoever the most amazing puppets accompanied by live traditional music. Even though we couldn't understand the words, the basic story lines were evident. We left the theatre absolutely amazed, this is an absolute must for anyone visiting Hanoi.
So what is next? Well, after another amazing meal tonight, we catch the
Thap Rua: Hanoi
Otherwise known as Turtle Tower, it was built in honour of the golden turtle who presented General Le Loi with a sword to combat the Chinese Ming Occupation.
11pm night train to Hoi An (tickets purchased on the black market), and who knows what adventures await us in Central Vietnam, or on the train for that matter.
Big Hugs, and Happy Holidays
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