Hello Hanoi!

Trip Start Dec 06, 2009
Trip End Dec 27, 2009

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Our 13 hour flight from LAX to Seoul, Korea on Asiana was a cake walk. We were served some awesome traditional Korean rice bowl called Bi-Bim-Bab that came with cute little directions explaining how all the complex sides went into the dish.  A note on Asiana Airlines, instead of the stewardesses walking down the aisles offering water, they offered white wine. The stewardess wore perfectly taught outfits with cute little hats in the shape of a plane,  this airline was top notch. Three movies and some sleeping pills later, we landed in Korea. However, our 2nd leg, a measly 4 1/2 hour flight was a completely different story.  I'm not sure if it was the delirium kicking in, the serious downgrade in airplane comfort, or the crazy ladies in front of us playing some type of card game over the seats complete with bell sounds, but this last leg was pretty awful.   We were still just en route to our desitnation, but was I already getting sick? Was it something in that Bi-Bim-Bab that did me wrong or the insanely horrible Bruno we were watching on the iphone? I was spinning like crazy and my stomach was not happy about it. Looking back, It was probably moreso due to the overdosing on sleeping pills that didn't actually work coupled with exhaustion as it was then about 5am our time with just a few hours of sleep under our belts. I even had to bust out the airsick bag and get it ready. Somehow I was able to force myself to sleep and stop the spins. We finally arrived in Hanoi, but ended up being the last people in the customs line and 2 hours after landing and another day later arrived at our hotel.

From first glance, we thought we were being taken into a dark alley to be robbed.  The driver stopped the car and we thought for sure this is where we need to pay him $50 or the scary people lurking in the alley will come for us. Instead, he smiled and told us this was our hotel. All we could do was laugh, wondering what we got ourselves into. Luckily once inside the friendly staff made everything better.  They actually told us that it is super safe where we are.  The morning light helped us to see that we were actually on the best street in the Old Quarter! This is true Asia, we were plopped right down into the heart of it. In the Old Quarter every street is used for a different trade, shoe street, candy, bamboo mats, etc. Our street is the produce and meat/fish street. Live frogs desperately trying to jump out of their netted bag were just a few feet from our front steps of our hotel. The meat and fish are so fresh that when they chop the fish in pieces, the fish is still alive. We spent the entire morning walking through the Old Quarter and getting our bearings. Our first surprising observation was that nobody was harassing us as the tourists that we are.  Nobody following us, nobody pushing crafts in our faces, nothing. We were able to cruise the streets like any other local, what a breath of fresh air! Second observation, you better figure out how to dodge the insane mass of motorcycles quick. The place is swarming with motorcycles.  It is a true art to cross the street, something like frogger.  We soon discovered that if you just go for it, they all know how to swerve around you.  It's pretty amazing to walk out into a street with hundreds of motorcycles coming straight at you, yet you come away unscathed, leaving only an adrenalin rush behind.

After cruising some of the main sites in town and having some delicious seafood buffet at Brother's Cafe (thank you Johonna), we feel like we've got this city down. This place is alive! A perfect introduction to our South East Asian tour. A super friendly city, lots of things to see and do and easily walkable. For tomorrow, top priority on our list, eat our way through Hanoi. We've received so many recommendations we're going to have to start early.

After our early morning jaunt through the Old Quarter, a walk to the lake, visit to the Temple of Literature, back to the lake, quick stop at a bia hoi (beer stand), we're ready for a nap. Tonight we hit up Opera, another highly recommended restaurant, can't wait!

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Mary Carmen on

Wow!!!! I am glad that you are having so much fun. I am impressed with the travel Blog and I love to hear all about your trip. Love you and miss you. Please keep on posting as mucha as you can.

D'Arcy and Pasha on

How exotic and fascinating!! It's mind-warping to look at your pictures of tropical weather and see you in short sleeves, while we are in 27 degree weather here. We have mixed emotions to see you walk through what was a forbidden land during my young adulthood.

Marcello & Joy & Rocky Vercelli on

Love You Guys !! Have fun !! & Travel safe !!

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