Slept well! Woke up around 5am and headed out once it was daylight to walk around Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The place was humming early on a Sunday morning with old ladies doing tai chi to amplified music, groups boot scooting, couples dancing, individuals doing all sorts of “interesting” exercises, badminton and two of my favourite activities on offer, a group massage consisting of a chain of people giving each other a massage and the “laughter group” who stood in a circle and laughed as they raise their hand up and down in the air. There were lots of joggers and walkers and quite a lot of activity going on due to the Tết Trung Thu or mid-autumn festival.
I headed to the restaurant on the hotel’s 12th floor for breakfast. I had the corner table with a sweeping view of the city. Sue, Russ, Margaret and Bob soon turned up, so I had a second breakfast with them.
There’s a lot on offer from omelettes to continental breakfast, stir fry duck, spring rolls and curries. Of course, at the tea and coffee bar instead of just plain milk there was sweetened condensed milk.
I met up with Cuong, who is the owner of the jeeps we are driving, and our local guide. Cuong is a lovely guy, uses the “f-word” a lot but when he says it, it sounds charming.
In the afternoon I met up with Paulette and Eric and joined them on the yellow bus. With the temperature in the 30s and humidity high, this seemed to be a good way to have a look around the city to get an orientation.
At 5pm we met everyone that had arrived early for a drink in the hotel bar overlooking the city. Dinner was a short walk away at Highway 4, recommended by Cuong for Vietnamese food. I had to order the locusts and crickets for us to try and the banana flower salad was delicious. The crickets weren’t bad either.