The city seems to have the magic, I woke up in the morning couldn’t wait to have a trip around it. Not that I slept well, i got trembled and frozen, got prepackaged *very tight* on the blanked-and still got my hand slumped into my jacket number 2. I also wore jacket number 1 inside it ++double socks 😦 . Maybe that was another reason to be woken up. The only thing that helped me a lot was the hot shower water. It felt like all the “invisible” ice stuck inside my bones and flesh melting in *no exaggeration…
Breakfast provided by Hotel was shown in a menu list. There were French bread with pork, beef or omelets, another kind of bread with its complementary, and what attracted me the most was what ‘s on the bottom: Noodle soup with vegetable. Have I told you earlier? I am a vegetarian. Having imagination of last night noodle in the sidewalk combined with vegetable couldn’t make me happier back then, although, later on I taste that noodle was cooked in a broth *from the taste* T_T.
Breakfast was prepared by local Vietnam lady around 50s, helped by 3-4 Vietnamese teenagers, in a 1,5X2 m kitchen. While awaiting Mr. P & Mr. S took a shower & waken up, i sat by the receptionist table (all breakfast table were already occupied). There were 4 or 5 tables of four, occupied by western tourist. What I had noticed was, there were a small number of Asian tourists in Vietnam, most of them are non-Asian tourists (Germany, Sweden, Latin America, I knew it from the language they spoke in a second of time).
At around 9 am, we started to walk around the old quarter. The plan was to follow the lonely planet’s itinerary for one-day-tour in old quarter. Not different from last night, we started it from the Hoan Kiem Lake, the closest object from our hotel, to walk around it. The weather was even worse than the other night, the air was more jabbing cold and it was quite rainy & foggy. But somehow it added a whitish-curtain-like to the lake, separating us with the Ngoc Son Temple located in the middle of the lake from distance. We took a picture near the lake, on the sidewalk, where a group of many kinds of flower were tidily and gracefully set, served a small and beautiful garden for the pedestrians.
Not until a full-circle we took a walk around the lake, there was a barricade, guided by local army/police, secure *I’m not sure* a certain area near the lake that were being decorated & set up. Local army/police (till now I don’t know if they were an army, or a police ^^) told us that the particular area was closed to prepare that night for an event (till know I also do not know what event it was). We then made a turn back, to visit the next place.
I can’t tell you the very detail of the trip (the path, the direction or the street name). It was a trip on the sidewalk surround the old quarter, with its buzzing, bustling nuance, aggravated by the amazingly ignorant motorcyclist. One thing about the road in old quarter, it is quite a maze, with very complicated bend and turn (that is why I can’t tell you the detail). Luckily we were equipped with 2 maps on us (Bible’s Map & Hotel’s Map), guided us through the many places we visited. I even had a moment when I felt pity on myself, for being a blind-direction-tourist :P. Especially thanks to Mr. S & Mr. P for their amazing senses of every bend, turn, intersection, and crossroad in old quarter.
Nevertheless, the trip wasn’t giving any turn. Soon I got a bit bored with the buzzing bustling nuance of the old quarter (though I’m still amazed of how they set up things in their store & many things they offer from each store). The idea of old-quarter-tour perhaps just to have a city walk, observing & scoop the every nuance of Hanoi. If you like to take a glance on traditional market, antiques, local/traditional craft, then Old quarter is the suitable place for you. There you can find gravestone, herb, shoes, leather & PVC shops, and many others.
And don’t worry, if you are spontaneous, there were lots of Hotel and Tour information agent are in place to serve the tourists. You don’t have to book in advance. Well, a little effort might be need if the rooms are full.
Around 1 pm, we took lunch in restaurant named Ladybird. Ordered some menus including my favorite one: Vegetable Spring Roll (Mr. P told me that he thought it might be fried with pork oil, and it certainly hampered by intention to order 1 more portion). For non-vegetarian reader, sorry I can’t tempt you by mentioning non-vegetarian menu, since I can only remember mine :). But I remember a bit Mr.P and Mr. S ordered noodle, cooked with pork I guess, corn soup with chicken * I guess, again*, fried rice with pork & seafood. The later was regretted by Mr. P, which is until now still holds his opinion on Vietnam fried rice: not so good and weird *I cite from him*. On the contrary, I found the fried rice is delicate *off from whether it is cooked by pork oil or not, i certainly hope not*.
The trip continued around the old quarter, passed by some small temples & pagodas (not that exciting to take the picture on, or explored in), towards a beautiful old church, Regina Pacis Church. It was the second object i admired after the Hoan Kiem Lake. Again, we spilled our narcissism by taking several pictures. Mr. P showed some skill by using his professional cameras (and its partner: amazing tripod, Roger), produced some pictures i knew it’s gonna be my favorite. And thanks to Mr. S for its revolvable screen camera, enabled us to take our own picture with all of us in, without the help of fourth-hand :).
Journey was continued to somewhere i didn’t know (only Mr. P & Mr. S knew, I was a good amenable follower). and it was only a second before I found myself at Army Museum, where giant tanks & helicopters were displayed amid debris of falling war airplane; another lovely background to take a picture.
The Hanoi Flag Tribune was also a view, although we hadn’t had enough time to explore it.
It’s almost close when I couldn’t find either Mr. S or Mr. P, which turned out to be in a small store inside the museum, talked with local Vietnam girl name …. (She spelled her name; I triumphed by spelling her name back, but failed to remember it soon after leaving Hanoi). They were having a bargaining moment on a pair of hat (soldiers hat with a star on it, till now I do not know what is so interesting about the hat). I was more attracted to have a t-shirt. I bought one for my brother with 40,000 VND. Mr. T seems to have chemistry with the girl, and made a flirt couples of time, but not that strong to draw the price cheaper :P.
The journey pulled us to the place I admired, the Chu Tich Ho Chi Minh. A big monument or building with a huge capacious park, overgrown by a grass, separated by quadrates. There was also a huge capacious sidewalk, filled with pedestrians, tourists, even local people was having a Tai chi, and of course, an army, who walking around to guide the surrounding (it’s hard not to meet an army in Hanoi; and it’s too bad I didn’t count T_T). But that’s not all, the sparkling lights emitted from the haughty street light was the most attraction as the sun goes down. I don’t have to tell you what happened next: photo session, the best part of all…Mr. P took Sean&Shane out of his big black bag set some angle, lighting, and perfect composition for us to take the picture on. The Result: an amazing picture born by professional photographer from Duri. I already lost my shame on my pocket camera *sigh…*
It was quite dark, and my legs yelled at me “no walk no more”. Fine! You got it. We went back by taxi we stopped somewhere near the Chu Tich Ho Chi Minh. Have I told you? That not only the motorcyclist that raised my admiration. The car driver was sometime “awesome”. When he missed a turn, he directly (in the middle of the street) makes his way 180 degree turn back. No pulled over, no “wait until the road is clear”. Amazing Hanoi!!! Maybe I should learn from Vietnam how to drive a car, and then I can drive one in my complex where I live.
Hanoi, a place where super driver is born!
We drove back to Hotel, took a quick shower, and went back to have a supper. That was the night that rocks!!! Remember the event the army told us earlier? It was on! Till now I don’t know what they celebrated. All I knew was the road & sidewalk around the lake flooded by hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people.
After having a dinner, we took a walk around to see the crowd. Mr. P wanted to take a picture of the Ngoc Son Temple, which was conjured into a sparkling diamond in the middle of bluish magical lake. That’s why we traced down the sidewalk to get a space. But it was very difficult, since it was already filled with people crowding around. There were also some street merchant offering many things from food, toys, candy, and more. And….don’t forget, hundreds or thousands motorcycle was also took part :). It seems that the isolated area we saw in the afternoon was set up as a huge stage for a show. We couldn’t see it from where we stood. But it seemed that there were a lightshow and music sounded from there.
Just a few moments after we stood there, suddenly, fireworks flared up from the stage, shocked us with their beautiful sparks on the sky. All of people enchanted in a sudden, raise their head to the sky, admiring its beautiful eruption on the blue dark sky. And it’s not new year yet people, it was 30 December 2009. Again, I didn’t know what they celebrated. There were couples of fireworks flared up by turns, sourced from the stage *I believe, though I couldn’t see clear where was it coming from*and then stopped. I sighed my breath deploring the short moment of the fireworks, before another fireworks started to flare again. This time it sourced from the middle of the lake, from the sparkling green-yellow bridge in front of us.
If I’m not mistaken, Mr. P straddled excitingly (maybe it was like “this is the moment I’ve been waiting for… Sean… be ready…”). Me and Mr. S busy taking picture as well with our camera.
The annoying thing was, there was a big *f*****g balloon, so Mr. P said*held by someone stood in front of us flying right and left waved by the wind, hampering our view to a perfect moment. I still remember Mr. P said “f*****g balloon” couples of time that day, and one time the day afterwards.
But time has paid back to him, as he stayed a bit longer near the lake, he got the most beautiful background for his picture (diamond-like pagodas in the middle of the lake beside him), something I jealous at (why did I take a pee?).
Day two, 30 December 2009, still in Hanoi
Note: Woden is the Anglo-Saxon name for Mercurius, God of Merchant from Ancient Rome, from where ‘Wednesday’ comes from
“As much horror as we have always created, we are a species that keeps moving forward, seeing new sights in new ways, and enjoying the journey” – Martha Beck