Monday, May 26, 2014

Hanoi - the Old Quarter

When I was doing my research for where to stay in Hanoi, I found comments about how wonderful the Hanoi Elegance Ruby is. It is simply a fabulous hotel and is situated near the end of a narrow lane in the Old Quarter. After I had enjoyed some rest after the train trip, I decided to go out and explore. The smiling people at the desk gave me a map and off I went.

The entrance to the hotel. One of the first things that happens when you go out is that your camera lense fogs up immediately. Inside, cold air-conditioning. Outside, heat and high humidity.

The lane is quite narrow. Cars can't come down here.

All the scooters parked on the footpath make you walk on the side of the street.

A neat and tidy wiring job.

Bright colours everywhere.

Mysterious alleyways.

Thousands of street vendors.

Many women wear masks when they ride their scooters, presumably to save their complexions.

Scooters everywhere.

Many street restaurants use these little stools as seats and tables. For westerners, it can be difficult getting up and down. This next batch of photos were taken on my second day in Hanoi.

Shops selling similar items tend to group together. This is an area that sells luggage. I even found another area that sold hi-fi gear.

I was surprised to see a few dogs running around. A restaurant I went to even featured a cat.

I wandered down to Hoan Kiem Lake. This is the Huc Bridge leading to the Jade island.

I decided to walk around the lake which is the spiritual and social focal point of the city.

It was much more relaxing strolling beside the lake than negotiating the frenzied narrow streets of the old quarter.

I sat for a while contemplating the lake and having a drink of water.

The Turtle Tower on a small island.

This pose is something else. I took the photo from a distance without zooming and had to crop just a small part of the image. By the time I got close to her, she was still in the same pose. You don't see a lot of very old people here.

From the southern end of the lake.

These tourist wagons went past. Notice how they must have been old to wear masks to protect against the exhaust fumes from the scooters. Interestingly, in Beijing, most of the scooters use battery power while here in Hanoi, they are mostly the traditional petrol engine.

I presume there is pollution here, but you don't see it and every day there is a heavy downpour that cleans the air.

My walk lasted about two hours. When I got back to the hotel, my shirt was wringing wet and a hot shower felt wonderful. 

Video at a street corner showing how the scooters weave around each other. The night before, our street food tour guide had instructed us in how to cross a street. You literally have to walk out into the busy road and the scooters and cars will weave around you. I also found it useful to walk downstream from somebody else crossing the street. I wrote a message to Marianne saying that she could never come to Hanoi or Saigon because she could never cross a street.

Because it is so hot at this time of year, it is not the tourist season. Judging by the accents I hear, I think most are Australian though there are people from elsewhere. I met two Aussie women of a certain age at the hotel whose luggage had got lost. They were due to go on a cruise and had bought new outfits to make a good impression. The next day when I saw them again, I asked if their luggage had arrived and they said no and they were to go to the ship in a few minutes. I told them that when they got on board they should ask other women if they could borrow one of their outfits. I then suggested to them that when they put the borrowed outfit on they should say to the lender 'It looks good on me but it looked much better on you'. One of the women laughed and said 'you are so smooth'.

Perhaps I should take over as Prime Minister of Oz.

Did I mention I really like Hanoi? Except for the humidity of course.

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