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Published: June 11th 2017
We are in Hanoi! We met the group at 8:15 this morning, after another delicious breakfast, and headed out to the Hue airport for our flight to Hanoi. The flight was about one hour, and was pleasant. The beverage service was a bottle of water!
After landing in Hanoi we were picked up by a minibus for the around 1 hour drive to our hotel, the Eastin Easy Hotel. It is in a good location, about a 25 min walk to the old quarter, and very close to the Temple of Literature which I want to visit after we come back from Halong Bay on Saturday.
It was a sunny day today, but quite hazy. I think there is a lot of pollution in Hanoi. Hanoi is a scenic place, with a very attractive lake called Hoan Kiem, and lots of interesting architecture. It has more cars than Saigon, and also many many motorbikes. The old quarter is just insane, tiny, narrow alleyways jam packed with shops and motorbikes and cars and people selling all sorts of stuff, narrow buildings lining the street.
We got to our hotel about 12:45 ish, and after checking in Bon took us
Our Hanoi hotel
Group in front of the Eastin Easy Hotel in Hanoi
for a walk to the old quarter, pointing out points of interest along the way. Some of the group had lunch at a place that served only one dish, a pork noodle soup (they've been in business for over 50 years) which they said was delicious. The rest of us went to the Vuon Hanoi Garden for lunch where we tried the local beer (called Hanoi beer).
Bon then took us to the Water Puppet theatre to buy tickets for a show this evening, and then several of us walked over the "The Huc" Bridge to see the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple). It was quite a lovely temple, in a beautiful setting right on Hoan Kiem lake. It was built in the 17th century. Though there were many tourists there, it had a nice peaceful feeling.
Susan and Natalie were templed out so they waited while Christina, Malena, Cynthia and I visited the temple. While they were waiting they befriended a group of 3 Vietnamese university students who wanted to practice their English. The girls were all 21 and very happy to visit with us.
We hopped in a cab back to the
hotel and got our clothes ready to take to Halong Bay tomorrow (we'll leave our luggage in storage at the hotel and just take an overnight bag on the boat), and made a coffee in the room (the tasty 3 in 1 packets).
We headed out to the Water Puppet show at 5:45, for the 6:30 show, at the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. The show was very entertaining. There were singers and musicians playing traditional music, and the water puppets depicting various themes of traditional Vietnamese village life and myths. The Vietnamese puppetry traditionally was performed during the rainy season. Susan and I enjoyed the show.
After the show a bunch of us from the group went to the Cityview for drinks and a light dinner. Susan and I had beer and shared fresh spring rolls. The view over the lake was beautiful.
We all walked back to our hotel, stopping for water and other supplies. Andy was the only one who knew the way, but it was longer than the 15 minutes she said it would be! More like 25. The streets are incredibly lively at night, people packed into the sidewalks eating and drinking, lots
of motorbikes weaving through traffic. We are getting quite proficient in crossing the street, which in Hanoi is quite an adventure. The traffic doesn't stop for pedestrians, you just wait for a bit of a lull in the traffic, confidently step out and walk slowly across. The motorbikes will weave around you, but you must stop for trucks or buses because they will just keep going. The trick is not to run, just continue to walk across, but not too fast.
When we got back to our hotel we decided to go to a nearby "Bia Hoi" place (bia hoi means draft beer). There is one on every corner. The beer is good and really cheap (less than 50 cents). Andy, Cynthia, Natalie, Susan and I had 2 glasses, then we were joined by Jasmine and Andy so we had another, then Bon joined us too. It was fun to take part in something so typically "Hanoian" and to sit on the little plastic chairs and enjoy the draft beer, and the experience of just being here.
We meet our group at 8:15 am for the drive to Halong Bay tomorrow. The weather forecast looks good and we
are all very excited!
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