2007-01-27

A day of walking in Hanoi

Wow. Just came back to the guesthouse after a full day of walking around in Hanoi. Mostly the Old Quarters. Hanoi is crowded, it is intensive, it is dirty, it is colorful and I absolutely love it. After leaving the guesthouse in the morning I did a couple of hours of walking around in the Old Quarters where every street is a market. The streets are filled with dirt, food stalls, vendors and lots of motobikes. Since I didn't know where I started or in which direction it wasn't much of a point worrying about getting lost - to get lost you kind of need to know where you are when you start. The Old Quarters are lovely though. It is a labyrinth of small streets changing direction and name every block, and filled with small shops, cafes, food stalls and so on. There were lots to see and I was so busy taking in all the views that I forgot to take any photos. Might do the same tour tomorrow and try to capture some of the feeling with the markets in the morning. Or I might go for a three-day tour in Halong Bay, sounds really neat actually!

After finding my way down to the lake I had an hour of visiting the temple in the lake and then walking around the lake. I found the St Joseph cathedral which (just as the guidebook said) looked as if though someone had taken it straight from France and put it in the middle of Hanoi. After visiting the church I sat down for an early lunch / late second breakfast in an alley. I'm not sure what I ate, but it was really good. There was deep-fried boiled eggs (strange but nice), some tofu and some sort of meat that I couldn't recognize (might have been dog - what do I know?). Just when I finished my meal and was enjoying my ca phe sau da (iced coffee with milk - but without the ice since the lady thought it was too cold outside for iced coffee) a group of Australians that I recognized from Hue walked by. I ended up following them on their walking tour through Hanoi which got me back to the church again and then to a restaurant which was very nice. I ate some nice spring rolls and had a proper ca phe sau da, which cost me approximately 3 times as much as my whole meal and ca phe in the alley. We decided to meet again tonight, so I'll join them for dinner, after dinner or some other time during the evening. They were going for a water puppet show which sounds like a nice idea. The other idea is to join the Korean guy that I'm staying with for the moment for some cheap local made beers (it's fresh beer - made the same day and costs 8000 dong which is 4 SEK per glass).

Now I'll try to upload some photos to PicasaWeb, so hopefully you can find a couple of new pictures there in a while.

2 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

For a unique high-end experience, book passage aboard the Emeraude -- a copy of a French steamer that once plied these waters in the early 20th century. Certainly the largest boat at 55m (180 ft.), the elegant Emeraude has 38 cabins, a fine-dining outlet, and plenty of room to stretch your legs. The luxury trip comes with a price tag, of course, but the 2-day, 1-night cruise is well worth it.

Leaving Hanoi at 8am, you'll check in at the private Emeraude pier and be shuttled to the boat. Before checking in to your cabin, you'll enjoy welcome drinks and a quick orientation. Compact, as ship cabins always are, onboard rooms are decked out in hardwood, with nice fixtures like air-conditioning, a private reading lamp, slippers for shuffling about the decks, and a tidy, compact bathroom area with toilet, shower, and a separate room for a small sink stand. Everything onboard is retro, which means pleasing hardwood, brass, and fine linens. The oversize wicker chairs on the top deck are cozy, and you'll find shaded areas as well as sun-worshipping space. A casual, friendly atmosphere pervades, especially when the corks start popping.

Dining onboard is a delicious buffet, and most guests find themselves sharing a meal with new friends. Lunch on day 1 is followed by a stop at the Surprise Cave, then an afternoon of cruising and great views of the islands. The boat docks in a quiet harbor and guests have an opportunity to, on their own or with a guide, explore nearby Trinh Nu and Hang Trong, the Virgin Cave and the Cave of the Winds, or take a dip in the bay. The back of the boat is low in the water and there is a sturdy ladder making it easy to get on and off (the adventurous will join the crew for dives off the upper decks). Dinner is a sumptuous affair of fine local cuisine (heavy on seafood) and good Western options. Enjoy drinks on the upper deck as you watch the moonlight glisten off the bay.

Day 2 starts with tai chi classes on the sun deck as a brilliant sunrise paints its colors on the arching canvas of high limestone peaks jutting from the glassy waters. Blissful. After your exercise, tuck in to a hearty Western-style breakfast. The boat returns to the dock by 9:30am, and a direct transfer finds you back in Hanoi by lunchtime. The trip is quite memorable, and a ride on this retro ship, outfitted to the nines, is unique to Halong Bay. The price for the overnight cruise is $290 for a luxury cabin for two and $490 for the one-suite room, but discounts for larger groups are available. Transfer from Hanoi costs $100 for a four-seat vehicle. Check the website at www.emeraude-cruises.com

Olle sa...

I hope you have checked the kind offer by the anonymous commentator! Comes with a price tag indeed! Clever advertisement.

Olle