Saturday, 11 June 2005

Hanoi day 1

Saturday 11 June 2005

The bed was hard and slept okay, only being disturbed by my cold symptoms. Awoke about 5:30am as the room was quite light. Put my valuables in the safe deposit box at reception. Breakfast is served from 6am to 10am, and I was in the dining room soon by about 6:30am. Breakfast is buffet style, with the food sitting on platters, with no means of keeping the cooked food warm or the fruit etc cold: a strong incentive to eat early. Ate a platter of fresh fruit: pineapple, water melon, paw paw, apple, jack fruit, lychee's, starfruit and a tart pale yellow unknown fruit. Had some warm fruit juice, tea, sticky rice, cold egg and several pieces of fresh bread with jam. There were no napkins, just a box of facial tissues!

Had a small list of things to do: buy a SIM card, water, a good road map of Vietnam, an umbrella if possible, and change some AUD$ into dong. Set off with the idea of just wandering the streets and hopefully finding what I was looking for. The first sight outside the front door was a woman trotting along with a flat pole over her shoulder, a basket hanging from each end of the pole and a conical hat on her head. The streets of the old town, with the hotel in the centre, is a fabulous collection of narrow streets with shops and businesses on the ground floor and accommodation in the 2-3 floors above. The streets are full of people going about their business, sitting eating in small groups and just hanging around.

Soon came to a street food market with all sorts of goodies. There were the usual vegetables, fruit, herbs and meat stalls. There were live chickens stuffed into tiny cages, live fish, turtles, bunches of live frogs tied together and trying in vain to kick for freedom. There were crabs, both large and small. The small ones were available either alive or freshly grilled. There were pork butchers, chopping up whole pigs, and chickens roasting on small spits or in oil. There were nuts, both raw and freshly roasted, and various other cooked items that I couldn't identify. There was little space to walk, but the motor scooters still managed to honk their way through.

Continued to walk around admiring the huge variety of goods that are for sale. There are many specialty streets, where a single produce predominates: silk garments, watches, co


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