It’s been raining like crazy in Hanoi, with a few breaks in between downpours! Actually, I don’t find it disagreeable. Warm rain is something we don’t get much of in Oregon. The winters are wet but cool with dry summers, so the novelty of warm rain is fun.
For the past few days, I’ve been exploring the area around my apartment in Hoàn Kiếm, trying to walk off jet lag. In the heat, 2 to 3 hours is my max. There are tons of inviting streetside cafés along the way. If you need a break, you can stop for an iced coffee, and the lime mint slushies are addictive. Hoàn Kiếm cafés I especially enjoy are La Mensa, Café Giảng, and Trung Nguyên E-Coffee. A variety of exotic fruit is available from street vendors, including mangosteen (măng cụt), rambutan (chôm chôm), longan (long nhãn), lychee (vải thiều), star apple (vú sữa), and of course dragon fruit (thanh long).
Crossing intersections on foot in Hanoi is almost like playing a game of chicken, and can be unnerving if you think about it too much. I got honked at several times today :o), but during a previous visit to Vietnam, learned from the locals that hesitation is not the way to go. Even with Google maps, I got lost several times, and at one point, followed an elderly man carrying his grandchild – figured I had to be as brave as he was. Hanoi traffic is a piece of cake when compared to Ho Chi Minh City.
Decided to take some motorbike tours that boast “backstreets and unseen parts of Hanoi inaccessible to cars and buses”. A local guide will take me on three tours – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – exploring city backstreets, the Hanoi countryside, and night street food (thức ăn đường phố). The rain is forecast to subside a bit on those days but pick up again with heavy downpours, thunder, and lightning.
Asiana Airlines finally found my lost luggage and will deliver it tomorrow – YEAH!!!!!! It’ll be nice to get my things back and have cooler clothing to wear. I packed some lightweight dresses purchased in Athens last year during their very, very hot summer.
It’s difficult (at least for me) taking photos in busy streets, and there’s much to learn and focus on during the first few days in a new place. I’m not into selfies. A mish-mash of random shots is attached. I’m not the world’s best photographer and often use media shots taken by much better photographers. I didn’t bring a separate camera and am using my iPhone for photography.
I was surprised to see several merchants burning small amounts of rubbish on the street. Took photos of a few storefront clothing displays. Fashion in foreign cities is always interesting. Street merchants on a retail area near Hoàn Kiếm Lake sell everything, from lanterns and stoves to smartphone accessories. Saw several beautiful songbirds for sale perched in their cages singing beautifully with full-throated ease.
More after the motorbike tours…