Hanoi Day 2 -All on our own now

Woke up at 4am thanks to the lingering jetlag. Decided to head out to the Hoan Kiem Lake to see what the geriatrics were up to. Answer = getting busy. Cycling, dancing, soccer, badminton, weightlifting, everything. We walked around the lake and took it all in. Old lady’s shaking the hips in a semi-suggestive manor, younger ladies hooking their knees under benches and doing sit-ups while in a squat! I can’t even do that! Lots of gringos out running too, made me itch for a jog, only 1 kilometer around the lake, wonder if they have a marathon. Might be a deal breaker with Vanessa considering this is the honeymoon.IMG_3410

Took a cab to the Ethnology Museum in the suburbs. Very nice design and presentation of the 80 or so ethnic groups here. 80% are Viet which is obviously high but not quite the 98% Han dominates China. It was a good intro before we head into the highlands in Sapa. Out back they had reconstructed whole villages for each ethnic group you could visit. You had to respect the cultural norms of each. Taking your shoes off at some houses…dealing with angry goats at the entrance of others. Side note, Vanessa does not like angry goats staring her down.

Walked the 6 Kilometers home and saw huge statues of of Lenin and Uncle Ho’s tomb. Gigantic like Mao’s was in China. Lots of soldiers marching around but with many trees around which made it more pleasant than the paved over Tian’amen square. Didn’t feel the need to see Ho Chi Mihn’s embalmed body so kept walking back to the market.

We wanted to try and find the place we had pork Pho the day before but it was so overwhelming without our guide. Que the Anthony Bourdain scene, dark ally’s, chickens and dogs running at our feet, minced pork ground into the broken concrete under our feet, strange fluids (water I hope) running across the ground, and grandmother watching me as she swings the butcher knives efficiently into the pigs body, smaller and smaller pieces. The chicken ran over my foot and my stimulus reached max, “Vanessa abort the mission!”

We dove down a side street until we saw a bakery with foods we understood. Motorbikes bearing down from every direction, Vanessa bought me a piece of cake which I shoved in my mouth, restoring my blood sugar, as the fresh MSG flooded my system. With my bravado back I challenged Vanessa to try the crowded buffet style street food next to us.


Rice with scallions, pork and wood ear mushroom egg rolls, the best part, and we stayed away from meat given the recent carnage we encountered at the market. (Yes Mo, we have come back to the vegan dark side after blood on the streets).

Our energy restored we pushed deeper into the market and found our Pho palace. Behind the Halloween decorations and Santa cards, yes, the Halloween decorations and Santa cards. Sweet sweet smoked pork pho. In a heart beat the vegan lifestyle went back into the shadows.

Went to the Softihotel for the 20th floor roof bar and “Rusted Nails” cocktails. Vanessa had some sort of passion fruit vodka nonsense. Tasty though. The view of the Tay Ho/west lake and the Red River was epic. Felt very swanky up there.

Back home to the old city for Bahn Mi sandwiches…50 cents each…had to have several on principle of the price. Enjoying a Tiger beer under a giant hand drawn portrait of Snoop Dog. Yes, Snoop Dog is in the house.

Ha long bay tomorrow…off the radar for a bit as we head into the highlands after that. But, way ahead of the USA. WiFi is free everywhere here.



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