Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vietnam - # 3 - Hanoi Jan 2012

Alright, so I finally arrived in Hanoi, after a long bus ride from Hoi An. I was glad to be north, away from my negative feelings and experiences. As soon as I got to the hostel though, everything changed for the better. The people were friendlier, the vibe was more chill, everything just felt more honest and genuine. I got a bed in a dorm, and was happy with it.

Next day I went on a free walking tour of the area. It was pretty confusing because the roads were not straight. It all felt like a maze, but I figured it out a little towards the end. 

I met up with one of my neighbours, who was actually staying in the same hostel but in another building just across the street. I met a very cool French girl on the morning walking tour, and one of my Vietnamese friends from Korea got her sister to meet me and take me to her home and show me around a little. I was very lucky and felt much better about my Vietnam experience.

Here are some pictures and their stories.

This was the cocoa fruit opened. The inside, as you can see, is full of these white blobs. As it turns out, you can eat only the mushy white jelly and inside is the seed that when dried and ground up will give you the 100% cocoa powder.

Here's what the seeds look like. They tasted very VERY bitter. They were purple and looked like brain. Strangest thing ever!

This was the little alley where many hostels were located. Mine was GREAT!!

This was the inside stairwell, leading up to the patio bar. Communist star and the other symbol were everywhere.

Morning bread delivery. WHOA!! I didn't try some, but I bet it was delicious. The Vietnamese have the French influence and do bread really nicely.

So, the walking tour took us around the little lake and the little island in the middle of the lake.

Very communist.

This looked better in real life than in this picture. Just try to imagine it.

This is the entrance to the little island. 

It's special because they say that one of the last giant turtles lives in this lake. 

And to prove it to you, they've got a stuffed one on display. 

There were a lot of these trees with vines or roots hanging down. 

Then we were walking along a very busy road, trying to avoid bicycles, motorcycles, scooters and other pedestrians moving in every direction.

This is a sugar cane juicer. 

Yum, mobile strawberries.

This was really cool. A very squishy and tasty bread, filled with meat and a strangely cooked egg yolk. 

On the corner of my little alley, was this food vendor that sold sandwiches and this soup. I had some soup with Manon, the French girl I met on during the walking tour of the area.

Very interesting mix of textures. The broth was very thick, creamy and bland. Then was the fried chewy dough, and then sprinkled on top was dried/fried shredded chicken. WOW!! Great combination.

Walking around the area, the schools let out and then TONS of parents on scooters and motorcycles came to pick them up. It was an insane traffic jam.

So here is my friends family. Hers sister, mother, father and nephews. They were SO nice and welcoming.

Then, at the end of the evening, they drove us back to our hotel on their scooter. 

Next day I met up with the sister and her husband and went to an old traditional school. It's not used anymore. I'm not sure if this was for monks, or just for teaching regular people. In any case, it was beautiful.

There were lots of these headstone looking things on the back of the giant turtle statues. 

This is the interior of a temple. Very Chinese.

There were lots of bonsai trees everywhere. So beautiful. It's a sign of prosperity.

Incents burner.

Before the exams, students go to these artists to have good luck signs written for them. 

This was the end of it. Then I went to the airport in the morning and went to Bangkok where I waited for my sis and her boyfriend to come. I had a lot of mango and papaya those 2 days.

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