Thursday, April 05, 2012

I Have Become A Millionaire ... Again!




The truth is usually easier to live with than getting caught in a lie.




Early this year, I wrote I Have Become A Millionaire when I travelled to Batam, Indonesia.  The Indonesian Rupiah goes by millions.  Here again, after the exchange rate from Singapore Dollars to Vietnam Dong, I become an instant millionaire once more. Awww, how sweet life is!

Good Morning, Vietnam!
(Part One)

And so I say, visiting Hanoi (Vietnam) is not for the faint-hearted.  Though the spring weather in March (during my visit) is at its best, walking around the busy city is another thing.  It is a challenge especially when one is crossing the roads.  There are just too many motorbikes and cars, and not forgetting big passenger vans, fighting for the rights of ways.  Personally, I feel there is just no proper traffic system.  Even if there are traffic lights and zebra crossings, motorists often ignore them leaving pedestrians to have gung-ho determination to cross over to the other side of the road.

Interestingly, roads in Hanoi - especially at the Old Quarter, are sounded with lots of honks.  There are honks every where.  The horns of the motorbikes, cars and vans are legitimate business.  Ironically, they keep the roads in order and safe.  The sounds are every where at every minute even in small lanes and worse, these noises can be a nuisance should your hotel is just along the busy duong (roads).  My taxi driver who drove me back to Noi Bai International Airport had his hands on his honk practically all through the 45 kilometres drive from city's downtown to the airport, even along the highway.


Busy Roads in Hanoi City


What we used to have in Singapore - the Newton Circus.  Part of the Old Quarter in Hanoi City.
You just have to be brave to cross the road!  It is advised that pedestrians should not stop in the middle of the road but to continue to maneuver to cross the road.  When one stops, it confuses the motorist and might result in accident.
Picture taken from inside a van.  This is just one road inside the Old Quarter.


The Old Quarter

When in Hanoi, the best place to stay would be at the Old Quarter.  The Old Quarter has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi.  Hanoi was built with only 36 streets with each street specializes in a particular trade.

There are many hotels here.  At the same time, it is packed with interesting shops, street food stalls, bars and cafes.  Old Quarter is a complicated web of winding streets, linked together to form  thriving market place.  The Old Quarter is crowded, hazardous to pedestrians and filled with the sights and scents of Vietnamese local life.

A family recommended that we stayed in the Old Quarter.  Fortunate for us, the hotel that we stayed was slightly at the outskirt of the Old Quarter.  Here, we were not badly affected with the city's noises and crowds.  However, we often found ourselves lost whenever we were making our way, after our walks, back to the hotel.

The Old Quarter, Hanoi


The Hotel that we stayed, which was just at the outskirt of the Old Quarter.

As usual (as it always happens with our holidays), we were lucky to experience the different types of rooms.  We had the Deluxe Room on arrival where we stayed for a night.  On our return from Ha Long Bay, we were given the Deluxe Family Room.

Deluxe Room - Just look at how the bed was done! There were petals of roses all over it.
Slightly bigger room - the Family Deluxe Room with one queen size bed and a single bed.


The Eating Place

Finding a good place to eat in Hanoi City is not easy.  Somehow, most hotels are not catered for dining.   So is our hotel - there is no Cafe or Restaurant other than a simple breakfast room.  Sure, there are lots of road side stalls but such places are not what tourists would want to venture.


A very simple Breakfast Room on the highest floor.

 The simple breakfast spread

Nothing much .. then again, we are not a heavy breakfast person.

These sunny side-up eggs are, somewhat, different to our eyes.  They are really thick! - both the egg white and yolk.  Perhaps they come from a fat chicken.


We were fortunate that we met a New Zealand family (from our trip to Ha Long Bay) where they recommended Quan An Ngon.  Quan An Ngon is a simple "street food" food court that serves authentic Vietnamese food at a very affordable price.  It opens from 7 in the morning and the last order is at 9.30 p.m.  The menu is huge and the staff's attitude is friendly.

Location of Quan An Ngon, which is not inside the Old Quarter
The Main Entrance

There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.  This place is usually crowded in the evening with the locals and tourists.  At times, patrons have to wait for seats.

And those with 'strong' stomach, may try the road-side stall just like this one.  The food here must be good as it is very crowded with the local people.


We did venture out to eat at one of these road-side stalls.  Just outside our hotel, there was a stall selling all kinds of buns.  We thought 'why-not?' and tried it since I loved breads and they served them hot.  The so-called vegetarian bun (just a plain bun actually) was a little too sweet while the shrimp bun was not so bad.


The lady was not too happy when I wanted to snap a pic .. oops.

The Buns which you eat with the salad and dip in the bowl of sauce.


This is one of the local favourite past time - there are many such side-way cafes all over the Old Quarter.  Young and old just enjoy sitting around, probably laughing at all the tourists, while having their favourite hot lotus tea and eating 'kuey-chee'.  It is such an interesting sight for us.






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