Weasel Coffee and Water Puppets: Hanoi

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December 16th 2008
Published: December 16th 2008
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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: HanoiThap Rua: HanoiThap 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

Additional photos below
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Presidential Palace: HanoiPresidential Palace: Hanoi
Presidential Palace: Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh believed this was too rich for the leader of a Communist Country and opted for a stilt house instead.
Ho Chi Minh's Stilt HouseHo Chi Minh's Stilt House
Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House

This two room house was Ho Chi Minh's abode, rather than the Presidential Palace, though they both stand on the same beautiful grounds.

16th December 2008

Wow! This brings back memories!! The food is good, eh? Well, I thought it was (Rafa might disagree with you...hehehehe) At our hostels we always had a fresh bagette each morning with eggs and tea. Never did try any of that interesting coffee though.........damn, I missed out! Great to read and see about your travels online. I've been back in Peterborough for about three weeks now. I'll be heading back to Spain on December 26th.
16th December 2008

Happy Travels!
Well this sounds like the life! ; ) The weasel coffee doesn't sound so appealing to me as a non-coffee drinker but it sure looks like Craig enjoyed it! Enjoy the sights and sounds and most importantly, tastes of Vietnam - can't wait to hear about the next adventure!
16th December 2008

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas you two, looks like you got an early start, hope you have a great time, keep us up to date.
18th December 2008

Hello, you two! We have been enjoying your blogs...thanks! YOU have been enjoying yourselves! I'd like to try that weasel coffee, since I love coffee, but I think I'd rather not know how it came about until after I enjoyed it! We did a 10-week road trip of Canada this summer...fabulous! We went way up North to Inuvik and Tuktuyuktuk. We really enjoyed the Alaska Hwy. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and all the Best in 2009!!!

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