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Published: November 13th 2012
Outside St Josephs Cathedral
A pesky lady was trying to fatten us up with some deep fried goodness.
Our last experience of Hong Kong airport was an enforced 12 hour delay due to the typhoon pounding the area. And were flying to Hanoi then too. We had managed to make use of the time so we thought nothing of arriving early for the flight this time. Unfortunately we had spent most of those 12 hours in terminal 2. This time we were in terminal 1. About the same size as Tullamarine with mainly high-end fashion boutiques. Sad times. The Australian dollar may be going well, but not enough so I could afford a Hermes bag.
Landing in Hanoi in steamy, humid conditions, I felt sticky from the moment we exited the plane. We had organised a pick up at the airport so the transfer to the hotel was smooth (unlike last time when we arrived late afternoon with no accommodation organised!) Staying in the same place which we found four years earlier, not much has changed, which is perfect. A couple of fancy hotels have gone up across the road, and whilst I look at them a little enviously because they probably have lifts (we're on the 4th floor), I still love the old-world glamour
In the rooftop bar of the hotel opposite ours.
of our enormous room. Eleanor was looking forward to breakfasting on omelettes and lemon juice, which we remembered as being delicious.
It was getting late by the time we checked in and freshened up, so we headed out into the Hanoi evening for a bite to eat. The traffic was crazy but after the chaotic senselessness of Beijing's drivers, we were at ease amongst the motorcyclists. They allow for pedestrians and follow (a little loosely, maybe) traffic rules. After walking around for a while to refamiliarise ourselves, we ended up eating just around the corner, and for probably only the second time on this holiday, didn't over-order.
As Dean is an early riser (and afternoon-sleeper), he mustered us like cattle for breakfast and we were out of the hotel by 9 for the day's sightseeing. The omelettes and baguettes didn't disappoint and the coffee was excellent. Not an Americano in sight! Unfortunately we didn't check the weather and once it started raining, we realised an umbrella was a necessary accessory for the day. Standing under the eaves of the glorious Hotel Metropole with a few other drenched tourists, we decided to catch a taxi back
to the hotel for jackets and an umbrella (well, for Eleanor and I - Dean had lost his umbrella in Hong Kong). As we approached a taxi, the concierge waved him away and found another one. Oh no. This wasn't in our plan. Nor that of the bride and groom trying to have their photograph taken. They were moved along to make way for our bedraggled bodies so we could enter the taxi under shelter. All the fuss for what was literally a drive lasting a minute or two. I don't think the driver was pleased with his miniscule fare so we probably gave him double.
As we had seen most of the sights on our last trip, we basically checked out a few galleries and bookshops. I think Dean has questioned my desire to return to Hanoi but I really loved it last time and it has such a calming atmosphere (when you're not trying to cross a major road, of course). Also, the pho is the best in the world. I don't care that many people claim the best food is in the south. Sometimes simplicity is best.
Over the course of this holiday, I have
Sculptures around the lake
And a bit of topiary action too.
bought and swapped a few books but now Dean's backpack could almost qualify for mobile library status. It's time to get rid of a few after today's purchases. In the afternoon, Dean had a foot massage and Eleanor had a manicure.
Dinner was at a French restaurant/bar and c'est magnifique! It was rather like the Mordy Wine Bar downwnstairs, where we sampled some wine from Chile. Retiring upstairs for dinner, we gorged ourselves on pate, oysters, casserole, mousse etc. Then Dean had a tres fantastic discussion about last night's rugby results with some French people next to us. Not so great, really, so we left soon after. Across the road from our hotel is a new fancy schmancy one, so we checked out their rooftop bar and then came back and interrogated our host at the hotel about everything Vietnamese. OK, it was me, but I shouldn't be drinking Cosmopolitans after 9!
Before breakfast, Eleanor and Dean strolled around the Hoen Kiem lake enjoying the sounds and sights of dancing and exercising Hanoins. Later on, while strolling around, I managed to offload a couple of books at the backpacker hostel, but there wasn't much to
swap with (unless I could read German). We had a lazy day wandering the streets of the Old Quarter, lunching at one of the busiest places we'd seen (and then finding out later it's in Lonely Planet and highly recommended on Trip Advisor) and ending the day at the lake, trying to spot giant turtles. The Reunification Express to Hue left at 7, so we had an early dinner at a restaurant in our street before jumping into a cab to the station.
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