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My Third Week in Hanoi 7-18-13

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hi Family and Friends- It has been a long time since my last blog entry and I have been absorbing the sights and sounds of daily life in Hanoi since then. After I arrived here I stayed two nights at the Sheraton Hotel and celebrated the end of the Top Gear Challenge of successfully riding a small motorbike from Ho Chi Minh City in the South to Ha Long Bay in the North and then to Hanoi. I lived large soaking and sunning at the pool and enjoying the complimentary breakfast buffet and the nightly cocktail and hors de voures reception and eating steak and pizza with nice red wines! Tough living!!! My goal was to find an apartment and live here in Hanoi for a month and take lessons in the Vietnamese language and Iam happy to say I have succeeded on the apartment front, but unfortunately I have not had any success in enrolling in language lessons that would help me. I signed up for one class and anticipated it all weekend only to have them cancel on me and return my deposit on Monday when I showed up for my first class and this put me a little off of the whole thing sadly.

I live on the fourth floor of a seven story hotel called the Lotus in an area that is near the big lake and close to the Sheraton hotel, but still fairly far from the backpacker/ tourist center of Old Hanoi so there are very few westerners around me. My apartment is one room with a bath and a kitchen sink, hot plate, electric kettle, microwave/oven combo and wifi and cable TV. Also A/C and a wall mounted oscillating fan. All utilities except electric are covered and the apartment is cleaned for me three times a week and fresh bed linens provided. My view is mostly the blank wall of a six story building next door and some surrounding buildings that are smaller and the sky where there are lightning storms almost every night! The windows are very large and open so I can hear the thunder and feel the temperture change as the rains come if I want to. My apartment is very new- all new tile and all the appliances still have their stickers on them so I may be one of the first occupants!

Parking is on the first floor and is a locked garage and the lobby is one level up and seems to usually have someone on duty all the time. They have a small bar area and a cooler with drinks you can buy and a menu for delivery pizza I have yet to use.

I am on a large and busy street, but off the street are tiny alleys with residences and shops and market stalls where I buy food and vegetables from street vendors and haggle over the price of cabbage and how many tomatoes I can get for 5,000 Dong. Fun. I am still the curiosity even after three weeks and there is good natured laughter and banter as I shop and mostly smiles- not bad.

I've been cooking much of the time and eating in and my appetite has been very suppressed probably because of the heat. I rarely eat the street food and sometimes buy prepared meat like BBQ Pork chop and cut it up into my rice or other things I prepare. I've been craving western food and have tried Vietnamese Mexican at one place that was not Mexican at all and a hamburger at another that was highly recommended but not as good as a Burger King Whopper! My best meal I cooked was rice/beef stuffed cabbage rolls in a stewed tomato sauce with onion, garlic and basil that I made from scratch with mashed potatos. Some basic things are tough to find here at least where I shop- like butter, milk that is not sweetened, and ketchup or tobasco sauce. Just not in their diet here.

I try to walk ten kilometers every day and most of the time walk part of the way around the large lake and combine this with a taxi ride either out to a sight to see or back home. Cabs are pretty cheap and I pay about 5 bucks per ride including tip so very worth it to me to avoid the traffic/parking and navigation problems of the big city and when combined with my walk gets me some of the exercise I need.

The lake is very cool with little cafes and coffee shops all around it and you can watch fishermen toss their lines in reel up their catch. There is a nice breeze in the evenings and it is quieter there than the other more hustley-bustley areas of the city. Sights I have seen include the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), the Women's Museum, Peace Park, Lenin's Park and the National Fine Arts Museum. Still on my list are the Military Museum and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where Uncle Ho lies mummified. That closes really early so I've missed it so far. I will be in Hanoi until July 31st so there's no real hurry!

I've been to the main tourist/backpacker area at night once and it was amazing to see all of the Westerners! More than I've seen in a month in one night!!! My area is very quiet at night and I like it and the more local feeling I get there. There is a KFC near that area and I guess I will go there when I want fried chicken sometime and I just heard on the Asian news that Mc Donalds will be coming to Vietnam next year so the West continues to assimilate this culture slowly...

Some of the very cool things near me are a farm right off the main street where rice and vegetables are grown and fish raised and at night there are small bats all over that area eating the little flies and bugs. I've seen women harvesting herbs from the smallest areas that look like weeds, but are actually carefully planted- these people are industrious and waste not- want not oriented.

Overall I am having a vry good stay here and getting fit and resting up at the same time. After Hanoi I will travel North to Sapa near the Chinese border and try to climb the largest peak in Vietnam, Mount Fansifan- 3143 meters and a bit of a hike as well. That trip will be guided and I hope to see some ethnic minority villages there as well. Then I will drive South along the Ho Chi Minh Trail which is the inland North-South artery and will be all new scenery for me since I came up the coast on Highway 1.

Then out of Vietnam and into Laos.

More on Hanoi living next time....Peace, Out!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on July 18, 2013 from Hanoi, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Hanoi and Vietnam- Living Day to Day
Send a Compliment

Well frankly speaking i never heard about Hanoi but sounds attract me. i will definitely make a trip to Hanoi.

permalink written by  china visa on July 19, 2013

This is such a great post. With me what was once very comfortable at times can be not so much anymore. Are

we getting soft?

permalink written by  vivek gupta on August 1, 2013

Man Great Posting

permalink written by  Randy on August 16, 2013

comment on this...
Next: Last Night in Hanoi 7/31/13

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