Sunday, 26 June 2005

Hanoi day 4, Sunday 26 June

Sunday 26 June 2005

Slept in till 7am. Showered and was at breakfast before 8am for the usual comprehensive Camellia Hotel spread of fruits, eggs, bread, yoghurt and tea. The day was bright and shiny.

Bought two more tee shirts (50,000D) that are the Vietnam flag design: red with a yellow star. Have found the one I bought two weeks ago comfortable, light and easy to wash. Bought a North Face (Vietnam original!) day pack for 150,000D for use while travelling to Cat Ba Island and Halong Bay. Downloaded my latest photos to my photo CD for 20,000D. Bought a 5 litre mineral water, 3 cans of beer and a Diet Coke for 48,000D.

As we'd arranged, Sam & Fiona met me at the hotel about 12:45pm and I took them to the alley near Dong Xuan Market. Had a spring roll and a bowl of noodles with vegetables and snails (7,000D). It was delicious, though Sam & Fiona were not so keen on the snails. Fiona introduced me to the ease of using my camera as a video. While feeling rather foolish that I had not tried it before, was hooked. They had several books that wanted to exchange so we went to a small store opposite my hotel. There were not a lot of books, but sufficient and in alphabetical order by the author's surname. They gave four books and selected three, of which they had to pay for one. I bought F Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night(65,000D) that have not read since was at Uni, but remember it was good.

We continued down to Hoan Kiem Lake for a coffee at the lakeside place I'd tried and enjoyed 2 weeks before. Had an espresso (17.000D) while enjoying the lakeside setting and the shade. Along the wall between us and the water were small jets sending out fine sprays of water to keep guests cool.

While there tried Ron Brent's Australian mobile phone, in the absence of hearing from him and after failing to get through earlier. He was in his hotel, the Army Hotel, on the swish side of town, looking after his 7 year old daughter who was mildly sick, while his wife Anne and teenage daughters were out. Agreed to go to see him. Agreed with Sam & Fiona to meet them either on the bia hoi intersection or at the same restaurant as the night before. They liked the places I'd introduced them to!

Caught a scooter to the Army Hotel for 6,000D (fellow only had 2,000D change for my 10,000D note, so he made 8,000D). This is not the top hotel but is 4 star and huge . By the time I arrived all of the family were there. We chatted, then Ron and I went walking to find an ATM. As soon as we left the hotel women followed and called out to us. This was the first time had seen prostitutes, obviously in the area of the expensive hotels. Finished up at the ANZ ATM on the far side of the lake. Ron had to get back, so took him to a spot for scooters and off he went for 7,000D.

It was now 5:30pm. As I passed the bia hoi intersection saw Sam & Fiona there. Had a beer with them. After they went off to the restaurant (they were catching the evening train to Ho Chi Ming City) chatted to a Finn and waited for the Brent's. They arrived right on time at 6pm. Had expected they would have caught a taxi, but they came on 5 scooters! We strolled to the restaurant and joined Sam & Fiona. There were not a lot of people there, as have noticed that 7pm is the peak time. Had mustard greens and garlic, grilled pigeon, rice and a Tiger beer for 49,000D. The pigeon was predictable: bony with not a lot of meat, but the meat was gamey and tasty. The Brent's enjoyed the food, and for just one third what they'd paid the evening before.

Strolled with them to the lake and around to the water puppet theatre at 8pm. I then searched several Internet joints until found a computer with a CD reader. Then spent 2½ hours downloading the remaining photos from the CD. To bed after a shower at 11pm.


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