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 DAY THIRTEEN - Hanoi, Vietnam

Previous Blogs: Day 1 Tokyo | Day 2 Tokyo | Day 3 & 4 Singapore | Day 5 Singapore | Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City | Day 7 Ho Chi Minh City & Tunnels

Day 8 Can Tho | Day 9 Floating Market | Day 10 Flower Market | Day 11 Hoi An | Day 12 My Son Temple | Day 13 Hanoi | Day 14-16 Halong Bay

Day 17 Luang Prabang | Day 18 Temples-Waterfalls | Day 19 Mekong River | Day 20-21 Bagan | Day 22 Bagan | Day 23 Inle | Day24-25 Inle

Day 26-27 Finale

Click photos for a larger image...

We had a ridiculously early start, had to get up at 5.30am in order to catch our 8.30 flight from Danang to Hanoi - the flight was a little over an hour.  Hanoi is the Capitol of Vietnam and has been sine 1010.  Yes, over a Millennium.

We were picked up by our private guide and driver and on the way to the hotel stopped off at a Pagoda - a sort of Buddhist temple. We then walked to another temple nearby. To be honest the temples in Vietnam are not that impressive, we have seen far better in China.

People donate (inedible and sour) fruit to Buddha as an offering. Hey, why give the guy good fruit, he's not around anymore to eat it.

Hanoi is built around a HUGE lake.

There's a lot of French architecture in the city which were the original government buildings.  There was some sort of Governmental function so tourists were not allowed to roam about the capitol buildings.  All we could get was drive by photos but the architecture is gorgeous nonetheless.

HO Chi Minh Square - this is the memorial to Ho Chi Minh the original leader that "freed" Vietnam from the French and started the Vietnam Communist party.

Ho Chi Minh is revered by the people as the original leader even though his communist philosophy kept them in the dark ages until the 90s =e all people were EQUAL (Equally poor). Once he died, the country quickly switched to a free market economy and people could own their own businesses and make a life for themselves.

30 years ago Hanoi was a ghost town, no one wanted to live here because there was no food, at least if they went back to their villages they could grow rice and eat. Once reform set in everyone moved back to the city which now has a population of 10 million and is thriving! Just like the the Chinese, the people here are now all about making money and accumulating wealth.

We then checked into our hotel.  We were told upon arrival we were given a free upgrade to a suite with a balcony.  Thank goodness!  We saw one of the other rooms - interior with NO window!  Wendy would have freaked and instantly had claustrophobia!!  Catastrophe averted!

Our hotel room

The view from our balcony always has something to see! Like traffic jams!

Time for lunch at a rooftop restaurant. Duck in cream sauce & fries for me, salad (and most of my fries) for Wendy and two beers came to $11.

View from the ground, we had lunch at the very top restaurant in this building.

The view looking down from our restaurant. Click on the picture and you can clearly see KFC, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King, all in a row.

After this we took a tourist electric tour golf cart for an hour ride around the city - cost $15 for the 2 of us and here is what we saw:

Old school meets the big city!  Is she cupping her farts or what?

On your mark...ready... set... GO!

This is their Home Depot, each street block is dedicated to a type of goods for sale. So you can get everything you could from Home Depot on the same street just go to go to 20 different vendors

Here's the flower street.

That's a lot of shoes!

And yes, need a fur coat?

In addition to the stores, there are also vendors selling their wares from bicycles and scooters.

And also just on the sidewalk! In fact there IS NO ROOM on the sidewalk to walk - you walk in the street!

This is Vietnam's version of McDonald's - Lotteria. It's found everywhere!  Same food. Same feel. Similar colours. No supersizing, tho!!  Photo on the right apparently indicates that eating this food make you "talks" better?  While it's meant for Westerners, you only see locals in the place.  Westerners are at the KFC & Burger King across the road.

After this we went to a water puppet opera. This is a very old tradition in Vietnam. Above you see the puppeteers who operate the water puppets behind the scenes.

The puppeteers operate their puppets from behind the screens and the mechanisms are hidden under the water.

It is amazing the motion and different controls they have over the puppets in the water and how they completely marry with the music.

Here is the garbage guy, two of them walk down the street ringing a bell.  This is the signal for people to bring out their trash and dump it NOW. Hanoi, like every other city in Vietnam is PRISTINELY clean.

Tomorrow is another early day as we head to Halong Bay for our 3 day cruise on a junk.  Do not get this confused with Carnival Cruise Lines or other large ocean liners.  Also don't confuse the word "Junk" with some beaten up piece of crap with rats running around in the bilge.  This "Ship" has 12 cabins and 24 maximum people.  We upgraded to the balcony suite (a HUGE premium price) for a whopping $40.  It better frikkin be worth it.... super sarcastic LOL

We may or may not have wifi. So if you don't hear from us for 3 days, DON'T call the coast guard! We have NOT Costa Cruise LIned on you! LOL! Just outta wifi communication. By the way, the USA and the world could learn a lesson from the Vietnamese. EVERY SINGLE AIRPORT HAS FREE WIFI!!!! Every coffee shop, fast food joint and hotel has FREE WIFI! EVERYWHERE!

And here is a video on how to cross a street in Vietnam:


And finally...

Found in a restaurant restroom.

This sign needs no explanation...