The alarm went of at oh five hundred. A quick wash and bladder empty and we’re ready for another day and another adventure.
We got out of the train and found a taxi broker on the platform. He took us outside and we got into one of the smallest taxis yet. How he managed to get our two big backpacks into the back I don’t want to know.
There wasn’t all that much traffic so early on a Sunday morning. The driver was super overly cautions and we spent most of the time at 35-40 km/h through the streets of Hanoi. Finally we found our hotel and we have found another pearl in the Orient.
We got a royal greeting and had a nice long talk with the receptionist. He had ideas, maps and good English. We ended up doing breakfast at the hotel at their buffet. It was very nice to sit in relatively peace and quiet and enjoy some decent food. We spent an hour and a half there drinking countless number of coffee cups and surfing the web.
Then we went out into the streets of rainy Hanoi. The forecast for the following days are looking way better so we’ll do some indoor activities today.
We walk along the lake here in the old town and head towards the Hanoi Hilton. That’s the nickname the American prisoners of war called the prison here in Hanoi. Big names like John McCain has been incarcerated here after being shot down during the war. That part of the prisons story is stilll short though, compared to the French use of it on political opponents and criminals during their colonization.
It was built to imprison 450 people, but it held about 2000 at it’s peak. There are stories of malnutrition, torture and executions here. It’s even on display one of the two guillotines the French used. Most of the prison has been torn down, but enough is left and is made into a museum. This was both gruesome and educational.
From there we made a long pit stop at Starbucks. We’re still not used to the Vietnamese coffee taste and even though Starbucks is not the world’s best coffee, at least you know what you gonna get. As I have previously mentioned it’s hard to get the Asians to say my name. So I have made up some names while going to coffee shops that wants to call out your name when your order is done. This time the exchange sounded something like this:
“What name on the order?”
“OK, Mr. Handsome”
“Ok, Mr. Han”.
Dosen’t really seems like I can win this one.
Then we went to the women’s museum.
The museum presents women of Vietnam on many different levels. From the old traditional ways of life and marriage, to the war effort and to modern day struggle and fashion. Five floors in total with women history. It was nice to learn about the old ways of the Vietnamese. Here it was common for the man to move into his wife’s family’s house and the children had their mothers last name. Some rather grueling traditions of filing down the teeth and coloring then black is also a part of it.
Now it was getting to a point in time where we could get our rooms and we went back to the hotel. A nice long shower to wash off the train dirt and travel grit was amazing. A quick power nap and it was time to meet Ryan.
Our good friend Gordon’s wife, Angela, is from Vietnam and she had hooked us up with her cousin that lives here in Hanoi. These kind of connections make this trip better and better. That HF lent us his apartment, that Kent set us up with Gerald in Manila, and Gerald introduced us to GM Rodel, that we now meet Ryan…. It’s worth more than any guidebooks and access to the internet.
Ryan has studied in England and speaks brilliant English. He took us back out in the rain and we got to see some cool things. We started of by visiting a few old houses here in the old district. These houses is not used in daily life today and that meant we could go up to the second floor and actually see the complete house.
We also went to the temple of the White horse, the guardian of the city of Hanoi. We learnt there are four different guardians in the turtle, bird, horse and dragon. Knowing this we suddenly found these animals all over the place. What a little knowledge might do to the experience. We walked in the streets and learned a lot about the naming, and the stories of the old quarter.
At one point we had egg coffee. Yes, coffee with eggs. As it sounds a bit strange and you probably think of raw eggs in the coffee, right? But no, it’s whipped egg and sugar, then added to the coffee. It tasted surprisingly good. If this is our Vietnamese culinary challenge I guess it’s easier than the Balot in the Philippines.
We walked back to the hotel with Ryan and said goodbye for now. Hopefully we’ll get to have dinner with him on Friday.
We walked back out in the rain and headed for a place to have dinner. We found a place with balcony and looked down on the life bustling a story below. The food was just so and so, but the beer was cold and we sat dry with a view.
We took a stroll around the night market, but it was raining too hard and the bad sleep from the train catches up with us. Back home and to bed. Aaaahhhh….zzz
You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.
– Frank Zappa