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Vietnam 05: Hanoi

Greetings from Hanoi.

Our second day in the Capital of Vietnam, and I must say that I much prefer the southern Ho Chi Minh City. The streets of Hanoi are much more narrow, especially in the old quarter where our hotel is located, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit in a few hundred motorbikes anyway. The noise if deafening, the smells overpowering and you almost have to swim your way through the people, almost all of whom are trying to sell you something. Still better than the tourist area of Bali, Indonesia, at least here they take no for an answer. Luckily, tomorrow we’ll be leaving for two days for a trip in Halong Bay.

Outside the old quarter, streets get wider but not less crowded. We walked for a couple of hours on the shores of ake Hoam Kiem and through the embassy quarter to the presidential palace and Ho Chi Minhs mausoleum. Definately the largest tomb stone I’ve ever seen. We had lunch across the street from the danish embassy. Not on purpose, but it was nice to see the “dannebrog” (danish flag) again :)
Of course, we again found a place off the beaten track where they didn’t speak english, but my vietnamese is now good enough to count to five and order both hot and iced coffee. Black of course. However, we obviously were too touristy for the waitress, so this was the first time we didn’t get hopsticks. I must say, that I prefer chopsticks over the alternative as that is a fork and a spoon, but no knife. Learning how to use chopsticks is essential though, if you don’t want to starve. Maybe they say, you can’t eat soup with a fork, but you certainly can eat it with chopsticks. We also had “real soup” today. We were told by Minh (one of Fins collegues in HCMC) that soup did not have noodles in it. What soup with noodles is called if it isn’t soup, she couldn’t say though. I do need to find the recipe for the noodle soup when I get back. It’s really great for breakfast.

Anyway, off into the cold weather, 20 degrees C, cloudy and we even had some rain yesterday, and it doesn’t seem to improve the next few days), so I better go and dig out some warm clothes. Later tonight a water puppet show and probably an early night as we’ll have to get up early in the morning to set sail for Halong Bay.

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