Today is officially the first day of our first Self Drive Adventure of Vietnam. The last few of our group arrived during the day.
I went out for another walk around Hoàn Kiếm Lake - it was not as busy as Sunday morning but still, the people watching was superb. A group of fan dancing ladies, the fellas pumping iron at the outdoor gym and some middle-aged women “sexy dancing” to Boney M tunes.
After breakfast I took my own walking tour around the Old Quarter. In this area the roads were traditionally broken up by trade or guild. Much of this still is the same today. It’s a chaotic but fascinating way to spend a couple of hours. Everything is for sale on the streets from noodles to live turtles to silver jewellery. I also came across the massive wholesale market which sprawls over several levels. I found a shop with old propaganda posters near the neo-gothic St John’s Cathedral and bought a few that I hope Comrade Mike, my husband, won’t mind me putting up on the walls at home.
In the afternoon quite a few of us went to the Thrang Long water puppet theatre. We had heard this was a must see in Hanoi. It was lovely, very charming and well presented. It was all in Vietnamese (unless you purchased the audio translator) but you could understand the story and it was quite funny in parts. The puppets were incredible. They even had firework spitting dragons! When we emerged from the puppet show it was very hot and black stormy skies and a huge clap of lightning & thunder made everyone on the street jump.
We saw a bar with a happy hour sign and thought a cold beer or cocktail would be a good way to cool off. The storm hit, but two beers later it had ceased and we walked back to the hotel ready to meet up with the rest of the group for our welcome dinner.
The restaurant, Nhà hàng Ngon, was in an old French colonial home. The food was fabulous Vietnamese and Cuong, our local guide, had organised a cake for Sue’s 69th birthday. It was also her and Graham’s 9th wedding anniversary. I had a fun ride on the back of Cuong’s postie bike to and from the hotel which was interesting as he likes to talk a lot with his hands.