...went window shopping instead
09.02.2012 - 09.02.2012 14 °C
Woke a little earlier today (Nerdia slept in AGAIN), and now that Plane Boy has started streaming ABC 720 Perth radio on the laptop in the mornings it feels almost like we never left home. Yay.
Despite the cold and drizzly rain, Nerdia wanted to visit Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum... until we saw the line. Or, rather, one segment of the line. Uniformed police were directing hordes of visitors in rain ponchos around the block... and around the next block... and the next next one, and the next one. After a 10min walk we finally found the start of the line, and decided Uncle Ho would have to do without our visit this time as well. (We did visit the enormous open square in front of the monument on our previous Hanoi visit, but he was in Moscow for a 'tune up' at the time.)
Then we took a taxi to a shopping centre Plane Boy had tried in vain to find the day before; no wonder he couldn't find it, it was nowhere near the location marked on the map! This was a high-end fancy mall so we just window shopped and watched the comings and goings - which suddenly got much faster when a small fire broke out in a shop just along the corridor. One bloke sprinted to the nearest fire extinguisher cupboard, right in front of us (they are EVERYWHERE here) but everyone else seemed to be either very amused or a bit panicky. After a spurt of very serious walkie-talkie conversations, men in suits running around and a small puff of smoke, it was all over. Except for the voice overs some ten minutes later, telling us the evacuation had been cancelled - which was interesting as there hadn't been any evacuation, or even a fire bell. Ah well. When we walked by again a while later the whole area was roped off and much cleaning was in progress.
As the weather was no better we returned to the hotel for a lengthy siesta, then ventured out again in the late afternoon when it had well and truly dried out. Still cold, though - Plane Boy even wore his thick jacket, unprecedented! Any excuse for Nerdia to rug up to the nines, of course: jeans, skivvy, jacket, scarf and hat. Explored more of the crowded, chaotic streets in the Old Quarter around our hotel: all narrow, angled streets with even narrower shops crammed full of all sorts of stuff. Gravestones, giant plush toys, jackets, Chinese lanterns, jewellery... fantastic. Ended up back at the main touristy intersection at one end of the lake, so we picked a different upstairs restaurant for tea. Meal was decidedly ordinary so we chose another new place near our hotel for supper, which was much better. We usually perch at small cafe tables on balconies but this place had comfy indoor armchairs, which were very nice to ward off the cold. Very nice!
We'll hit the daytime and night markets tomorrow, looking forward to it.