Good Morning Vietnam

Trip Start Feb 13, 2011
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hope you enjoyed the first instalment of our trip,and thanks to those who commented. Our last two days have been very enjoyable exploring the sights of Hanoi, not that there are many. On Tuesday we walked down to Hoan Kiem Lake or Lake of the Restored Sword, unfortunately it is a lot colder outside that we had planned (12C) and it is very overcast. A quick look at a small Pagoda, Turtle Tower, then we start looking for somewhere to have a breakfast pastry and a coffee. Found one next to the Ticket Counter for the Water Puppet Theatre where we purchased tickets for the afternoon performance.
We then engaged a Cyclo to take us down to the Old Quarter area where we walked through the streets for a while just amazed at the daily goings on of the locals who are skinning frogs, butchering meat, selling vegetables, pho, cigarettes and anything else to make a couple of dong to survive another day. Using my elite bushmnan skills we finally made our way back to the civilized sanctuary of the Metropole where we had a quick bagette for lunch prior to going to the 2:15 performance of the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Thankfully the performance only goes for about 40 minutes and whilst I probably did not appreciate the skill of the performers and musicians, I did enjoy the ending.

We filled in the remainder of the afternoon walking back to home indulging in a bit of retail therapy and a quiet rest before dinner. We chose the French Restaurant at the Hotel, Le Beaulieu, as it was the first night of their legendary Le Grand Cheese buffet at which they showcase 70 cheeses from around the world and an amazing dessert buffet. And it was an amazing experience, you could indulge in all the cheese based entree options that included smallgoods, cheese tart, or any of the cheeses. Main course was a choice of Rib Eye Steak or Lamb chops with cheese sauce, so we chose both, the Lamb was fantastic and beef so so. We had a geat waiter, Hung (and he was well), who understood my need for cold beer and put a couple of Hanoi Beers in an ice bucket for me followed by an acceptable South African Shiraz.

We slept very well after that and did not even think about breakfast this morning when we took a taxi down to the West Lake area ( homesick already) to walk around part of the lake, look at another temple and make our way to a restaurant that our friend, Mudgey, had recommended, KOTO. This stands for "Know one Teach one" and was set up by Australian Vietnamese to teach Vietnamese Street Children restaurant skills so that they can obtain future employment in
the restaurant industry in Vietnam. The prices are at near cost and food was great with most of the patrons non Vietnamese. (Lunch with several drinks was less than $20)

It was a long walk back to our Sanctuary (5kms) where I decided that I needed to try the bath with energizing salts to revive me. I had purchased the book "The Quiet American" from a street vendor and relaxed in the bath for a long time. For those who don't know the author of the book is Graham Greene who was a resident of the Metropole for part of the time whilst he was writing the book and his memory is highlighted throughout the hotel.

Refreshed, Julie, wants to go out to post some Postcards, I need a top up card for my mobile phone and some limes for my evening G & T.

Tomorrow we head off to Halong Bay for a cruise on an overnight Junk Cruise.
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Graham and Karen on

Well organised as usual Richard, is amazing how many freebies you can get out of one birthday.

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