Monday, 4 July 2005

Hanoi day 8, Monday 4 July

Monday 4 July 2005

Awoke at 5:05am after an ordinary night's sleep. Met Ron Brent at 5:30am at Hoan Kiem Lake for a run. It was raining lightly and the number of people exercising was down considerably. The women who do various exercise routines to music were under cover, including a large number under the awning of a large department store on the south-eastcorner. I completed 5 laps, then ran with Ron to his hotel, the Army Hotel, then home, for a total of 65 minutes, my longest by far since arriving in Vietnam.

Was at breakfast at 7:20am. Carolyne called to report on her medical appointment this morning. Then to the Internet computers in the lobby to check my emails and work on my blog.

Walked to the Vietnam Airlines office to confirm my reservation for tomorrow and, more importantly, buy a cardboard bike box. Quickly confirmed my reservation and was advised that the bike boxes are available at the airport. Decided that will cycle there and pack the bike at the airport before checking in.

Bought two silk sleeping bags (a heavier version of those available at home) for 60,000D; 6 DVDs at 14,000D per disc for a total of 126,000D; and 3 CDs of Ella Fitzgerald for 30,000D. Had lunch by myself in my favourite area, the Dong Xuan lane. Delicious comination that I selected for 10,000D.

After being offered 600,000D for my Nokia mobile phone, that have had for several years, two weeks ago by a bloke in a Nokia shop from which I bought a Vina recharge card, returned to the shop to check that the offer was still available. It took several visits, with the bloke away for several hours. When I spoke to him, he said that the offer still stood, but would not pay more. He advised that the shop will be closed tomorrow, so must conclude the deal today. He also advised that the SIM card in the phone, together with the credit on it, was of no value to him. I had to keep the phone for the afternoon to talk to Ron Brent and Carolyne.

At a book exchange from which had bought Tender is the Night a couple of weeks ago sold two books that no longer needed: the Vietnam Administrative Atlas purchased on my arrival for 68,000D; and a Lonely Planet Phrase Book from 1991. They paid me 35,000D and had a good chat with the friendly crew.

Went to my favourite coffee haunt, the Dinh Lang restaurant, for a 17,000D espresso and a call to Carolyne. Tried to interest a couple of luggage shops in the small suitcase that had bought to store stuff while cycling, but they were not the slightest bit interested. Decided that would leave it at the hotel.

Ron called and we arranged to meet at 5:30pm at the nearby bia hoi, from where we would all go to dinner at the restaurant I found yesterday on West Lake. We enjoyed a couple of beers at the bia hoi and I gave Freya and Millie small presents for their respective 8th and 16th birthdays. We caught a taxi to the restaurant: gave the driver the restaurant card and he found it readily. The meter cab cost about 50,000D.

The restaurant is in a superb setting, floating in a large water garden of lotus, about 100 metres from shore. The sun set with large clouds on the horizon flashing with lightning. We shared a large meal, of which I ate the major share. Included snails, but the Brents were not keen on them. There were a couple of beautiful chicken dishes, mustard hreens in garlic, sechuan tofu and stir fried beef. The price was 340,000 for the six of us, including three Ha Noi beers for me and soft drinks for the Brents.

The restaurant called us a taxi


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