Monsoon season ended with a cold front that rolled through and left us with cooler, sunny weather. Well, the high is still 30 C (86 F) everyday, but it’s not quite as humid as it was and the pollution layer blocks a lot of the suns rays, but this is what fall is like here. I haven’t posted in a while because not too much has happened, but I thought I would mention a few things from our time here in Hanoi.
First off, don’t drink the water. Well, we didn’t drink the water, we have bottled water for that, but I was using the tap water to brush my teeth. I’m not sure if that really was the problem, but it’s the most likely culprit. The second week we were here we both had some stomach problems. Howard even had a bad fever for a day but he came out of that okay and has had a stomach of steel since then. Me not so much, the stomach bug kept coming back and eventually didn’t go away until I got some medicine for it. I finally feel normal again. I hope it lasts.
Luckily, Western toilets are everywhere. I guess it was about 10 – 15 years ago they went out with the holes and in with the thrones. A nice restaurant will most likely have a nice clean bathroom. At some of the family run restaurants, the restroom is actually in the family house, behind the restaurant. It’s strange walking through someone’s house where Grandma and the small children (family members to old or young to work in the restaurant) are and the families toothbrushes are on the sink in the bathroom. One restroom I even had to share with a rooster. The door had about a 2 foot gap on the bottom and Mr. Rooster just walked right in. He hung out with me while I washed my hands then he hoped out the door and down the stairs to the family home while I turned right and went
back to the establishment.
One of the things we have not had enough of here is the Egg Coffee. This delicious treat was created by a hotel owner in Hanoi who wanted to make something similar to cappuccino for his guests. It’s Vietnamese coffee topped with an egg white whisked with condensed milk and cocoa powder. It is delicious! There are different varieties of egg coffee, and even egg beer. It’s makes a great breakfast and reminds of us the Pastel de Natas and small coffees we were having in Portugal.
Speaking of Pastel de Natas, guess what they also have here? Yep, even KFC sells egg tarts, one of our favorite breakfast treats from this trip and apparently they are popular all over Asia. I guess we have Portuguese colonists to thank for that.
One thing that we’ve found really interesting is how some of the streets are organized as far as what is sold there. The alley right outside our Airbnb has a day market that will spill into our courtyard. All kind of vegetables, meats and seafood are sold all up & down the street. When we go out, we will make our way though that, then we can either go down rope & tape street, or take snack street over to beer corner in the center of the bar & restaurant district. Of course there are exceptions to this, but it’s funny to see a street with 5 stores all selling the same specialized things in a row. We found chrome plated shelf & hook street, safe street, funeral wreath street, and bamboo street just the other day.
There are a lot of clothing stores too. The Made in Vietnam stores will sell North Face, Under Armor, and Adidas stuff right from the factory, at really great prices! I got a North Face Jacket for around $20. The same jacket is on the North Face website for $279. There is a lot of information online warning about fake products being sold here, but I haven’t seen that much. Howard needed a new pair of shoes and he almost went with a pair of “Niek”s but got a pair of real Adidas instead. When you’re paying $10 for a pair of shoes, it doesn’t really matter if they are fake or not. I kind of wish he got the Nieks, they were pretty funny.
We haven’t really bought much on our travels, except here. The prices are hard to beat. From the wandering street vendors, some who know us by name now, we’ve picked up a few things too. The locals are all so warm and friendly here, we always end up making friends when we go out. It’s nice, but we are looking forward to a change of scenery. Next week our 2 months in Hanoi is over and we are heading to the coast. I’m looking forward to the fresh ocean air!