Days 42 and 43:  15th and 16th February: Hanoi

It was great to wake early but then snuggle back down and emerge again at a lazy pace. Eventually we stirred ourselves enough to take some washing to the laundry round the corner.  The apartment is in the heart of the Old Quarter so we strolled some of the streets until we came across a bakery for breakfast with good coffee and delicious fresh croissants which we could see baking on the premises. 

Back at the apartment I rested while David went to a bike shop to sort out some things. Then off for a longer stroll through the small streets of the Old Quarter.  It was pretty touristy in some parts but there were also a myriad of small businesses spilling on to the street.

We found a good pizza restaurant with the pizzas made and cooked in front of us and struck up conversation with a British couple next to us. Turned out we were politically like minded so we were soon putting the world to rights!

An uneventful day – but that was the point. Rest and recovery still the order of the day.

The next day we still didn’t feel in the mood for formal sightseeing but we still  had some shopping to do before leaving Hanoi so we did our own alternative bike tour of Hanoi. We left the lovely apartment on our trikes in the middle of the morning after Bernie had done some filming for Bien, extolling the virtues of the place.  I hope it means he can rent it out more although the criteria set by AirBnB for the filming appeared very strict and we are not sure that her contributions will be able to be used.

We needed camping stuff, notably a stove, to replace the stuff lost when the stove did its exploding trick. There was a Decathlon in the suburbs so we headed for it.  The route took us along a series of tiny roads, twisting our way through the back streets of Hanoi and showing us the under-belly of the city.  We passed numerous workshops all spilling into the street, tiny furniture stores, fresh meat on sale with no refrigeration (and lots of flies), laundries and shops selling things we could not identify.  Motorbikes were everywhere and there were virtually no cars.  There is a complete network of narrow backstreets that, in practice, cars cannot use and hence the motorbike is king.  

Eventually we joined a main road which took us to a modern shopping mall.  This was just like every other shopping mall across the world and we could have been in the Bull Ring in Birmingham (except the shoppers were perfectly dressed – apart from us of course).  Decathlon was hopeless as, in reality, it only sold clothes.  Bernie got a new swimsuit but the “camping” section had no stoves.  Vietnamese campers must go hungry.

So we consulted Mr Google and found a specialist shop supplying camping equipment who not only sold us a new stove and pots, but also had a pair of trousers that fitted Bernie- she is of course standard size here at 1m 50cm, and not treated as a midget by those who only seem to produce clothes for Amazonian goddesses.

Next we found somewhere selling pizza and filled up with one between us, and then went back to the apartment via the Ho Hoan Kiem lake, which is in a large park in the centre of the city.

That evening we were due to eat with Bien and his wife but they had gone to the hospital with their son, which was worrying and far more important.  So we ventured out and visited a “sky bar” where we had beer and wonderful spring rolls whilst looking out over the lights of the city.  Hanoi has a long history and we didn’t make the most of the visitor attractions but got a  feel of the hubbub or the old city.  Perhaps we will come back another time.

2 thoughts on “Days 42 and 43:  15th and 16th February: Hanoi

  1. It’s only seeing your pictures now that I can appreciate how bad your stove incident was. One day we should meet and compare, as in 2001 our camping stove exploded and set fire to Ken, and the tent. His face looked similar to yours David and he spent a week in a French hospital. Needless to say he is now very nervous around Gas stoves. I hope you are both recovering and am wishing you good luck for the rest of your trip, and I hope Biens son is ok.

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