9 Dec 2015

Hanoi- Old Quarters

The weather in Hanoi was lovely the days we were there. Most of the time it was 16C with occasional light drizzle. What we loved about Hanoi Old Quarters were the surprises that each street brought, such as old musical instruments, the abundance of fresh flowers and fruits, blacksmiths, beautiful bags and clothing for sale, worms and frogs for food, peddlers on foot and bicycles, a whole street of Christmas decorations, a cathedral, water puppet theatre, street market and the occasional "scam vendor." (We were tricked twice on the first day, and that taught us to be careful rest of the trip.)

Not sure what these are, or how they're cooked. They're alive and for eating.

Dried goods and flowers for sale. Check the weighing scale before you pay.

We walked no less than 5km a day, enjoying the cool wind, but certainly not the loud honks everywhere. Hanoi has a population of 8 million people and 5 million motorbikes!  They don't slow down at yellow lights, and neither do they stop at red lights! I had a close call there, but luckily it was my umbrella that went flying, while I only suffered a light bruise.

Water Puppet Show, a must watch if you've not done so.

Street food! We learnt to ask for the price before sitting down to eat. We learnt fast from our taxi driver the first day when he pointed to a street food vendor, then made an imaginary slit across his own throat. Still street food is cheaper than restaurants, though you may find the tiny tiny stools uncomfortable. If you have a weak stomach, be careful about the generous portions of raw vegetables served. We noticed that uneaten greens were simply placed back into the basket and served to the next customer.

Pho (pronounced pher), was our favourite. Warm delicious noodles in soup. Comes with stewed beef, beef slices or chicken slices.
Bun Cha (grilled pork with noodles)

We met rude people, we met nice people. The receptionist of the budget hotel we put up at, was extremely hospitable, and helpful. The barista at the cafe next door was humorous and never failed to put a smile on our faces. We asked for his name, and he typed his name on Google translate and told us happily, '"My name Power!!" followed by a loud, hearty laugh.  :) 

Strawberries, really sweet juicy ones....rm40 for 1 whole kg.


Finally, let me end this short post with this story which I shared with my friends on fb.

A blacksmith at work in Hanoi. A sight I've not seen in ages. Curious my children stood in awe, watching him hard at work. Soon he put his tools down and stared right back at us! A staring competition which preceded a game of charades because we didn't understand his language. 

He wanted to tell us what he was making, so he began acting...using two hands to show a movement downwards. I replied, "Bicycle pump?" He looked at me blankly. Of course, he didn't understand English, I forgot. So I acted back like I was pumping a bicycle, but the blacksmith shook his head, side to side, indicating No.

His turn again, he pretended to grip something in his hands and pressed downwards again. Then, Nel, pointed to herself, and began creating a motion of gripping and pressing downwards, like drilling a hard ground, and shaking her body and head quiet violently in exaggeration.

To our surprise, the blacksmith began laughing uncontrollably! He laughed and laughed and laughed, then gave us a thumbs up sign signalling yes, he was making a drill. smile emoticon

I think we left part of our hearts in Hanoi. Amazing city, amazing people.
@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015

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