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Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi
October 22nd 2013
Published: November 13th 2013
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Hanoi is a bustling city with an intriguing past. A few minutes from the Hotel Metropole is Hoan Kiem Lake, which is the hub of activity in the center of the city. There is a very wide pathway around the lake and it is where people come and run, walk, do Tai Chi, see and be seen, bring their families, play checkers and chess, and many other day and evening activities. There are small restaurant and Pho shops dotted throughout the park. This is a walking thoroughfare from wherever you are to the market area of Old Town, and myriad of shops on crazy streets with everything under the sun to shop for or see. It's easy to get lost here, so ask anyone for Hoan Kiem, and they will point you back to the lake, and you'll again find your bearings.

Crossing the street is a challenge altogether. After your first try, it seems easy enough. Just remember two things, keep moving and don't change pace. THEY will watch out for you, but if you mess up, you're going to get hit. I kept saying to myself, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." There are really not many actual cars in the inner city, mostly scooters and a few buses, and tons of cyclos, pedi-cabs with YOU in the front. These are a "take your life in your own hands" kind of thing. Since you're in front the view is great, but you're also open to the oncoming traffic and it is unmerciful what looks like is happening to you on your first ride. It was less than $2 to go anywhere in the city area, so I would take the pedi cab to wherever I was headed then walk back for the exercise. For some reason they think we don't want to walk, because as you do, each one you pass offers to drive you for "two dollah." That's why I found the lakeside refreshing, no cyclos, and lots of people watching during my walks.

Shopping in the Old Town, I didn't, at this point, know what I was shopping for. I knew I wanted a silk robe, but only found one silk/linen blend that I wanted, didn't buy it, and couldn't find it again on the trip. Live and learn. If you see it, buy it. Oh well, must not have needed it. So my shopping on this day was a bust, but found lots of lovely things to photograph and enjoyed my walk around the Old Town. Shopkeepers in Hanoi weren't as pushy as those I would discover further south along my trip. More on that later.

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