Two straight days of pacing around the city, and man are our dogs tired. Here's one simple view of the last two days - a list of each of our meals:
- Coffee and a sweet & sour apricot juice
- Homemade munchkins (doughnut-like things from a street vendor)
- Fried tofu and rice noodles (served 6" off the floor of a market butchery)
- Dragon fruit
- Pho ga (chicken)- one local's pick for the best in the city
- Bia hoi (Vietnamese beer) and boiled peanuts (As an aside, almost everything we have eaten here has been great. The boiled peanuts are not great. They are mushy and tasteless. It was a bad idea to boil them. FYI Vietnam--let's get the folks from Yankee Stadium to come in here to give some tips.)
- Fancy dinner - fresh springrolls with fish, beef salad, chicken and stickyrice cakes, eggplant in fish sauce, whole steamed fish
- Buon cun - soft rice crepes with mushrooms
- Pho with a bit of everything including fried tofu sticks that you dip in the soup
- Peanut-covered noodles (served in a banana leaf package)
- Fried spring roll
- Bun cha (grilled pork with veggies and vermicelli)
- Creme caramel
- Bia hoi, peanuts, rice cracker, grapefruit
- Bizarre custard apple fruit
- Tofu with green onions, chicken with lemon leaf and pork ribs at a restaurant popular with the friday night crowd
- Fried pork stick
A welcome reprieve from the bustling and horn-filled streets around it, we spent some time in the afternoon in the Temple of Literature, a series of buildings and gardens devoted to recognizing famous scholars in Vietnam's past. We wandered around from the Temple and through some more Hanoi streets just slightly further afield, ending up in the eyeglasses section of town. After excruciating cost comparisons and frame evaluations, we settled on a pair that were prepared for me (EB) and finished today. Another Hanoi shopping perk--cheap prescription eyeglasses.
Today we woke up with great expectations of a communist party celebration, as there have been banners up all over the City proclaiming 60 years of communism and July 27 as a special day. So far as we can tell, none of the 2 million Vietnamese communists (out of a total population of 80 something million) showed up for any celebration, and we are still holding our breath.
Not letting the communists keep us from having fun, we spent today on a major walking excursion, first heading to the middle of the main lake to see the temple (probably the most famous in Hanoi), then going north (or at least up on the map) to a market area and the giant west lake. The market was a wholesale produce market for the most part and though the stuff looked great, it was easily the worst smelling place either of us had ever been too. Once we'd left the market though and were walking by the lake, i was very relaxing and a nice break from the craziness of the old city.
After the lake and its temple, we hopped in a cab and headed south first to another market--this one overflowing with screws and bolts and springs, as well as everything else imaginable and then to a market where Josh bought some fabric for shirtmaking. New materials in hand, we went back to the tailor to get fitted into some of our things such that they can be done before we leave here very first thing Monday am.
Then off to dinner and a street food snack before bed. As Josh has suggested in the title of today, I must make a comment about the seats everyone sits in for eating street food. Carts and vendors set up literally everywhere on the sidewalk and block all traffic with their food prep and seating. The seating usually consists of tiny TINY stools that are roughly 8x8 inches and 6 inches off the ground. And though it appears to work for the Vietnamese, I'm sure the site of the two of us giant whiteys sitting on the stools much be hilarious for anyone who walks by.
Tomorrow morning bright and early we are off for a couple days to Halong Bay, so we may have to take a temporary breather from blogging. We'll be back afterwards, of course, so please stay tuned.