Our favourite :)
06.02.2012 - 06.02.2012 23 °C
Back in Hanoi, our favourite holiday destination - hurrah! Arrived late afternoon, noticed lots more highrise buildings on the way in. Same hotel as last time, tiny backpacker-style place called Rising Dragon Hotel, 300m from Hoan Kiem Lake. A few minor changes (mostly a lick of paint) but basically the same - still no lift, but we could use the exercise We think we have the same room as last time, must check the video (yes, Nerdia brought it).
Really friendly, helpful staff - gave us a detailed map plus a rundown of all the local restaurants and attractions. One was a restaurant Plane Boy had already seen recommended on Trip Advisor, so we decided to go there for dinner - but first, the lake! We have so many happy memories of strolling around the lake that it simply had to be our first stop, and we weren't disappointed. Lovely sunset between the buildings; little bats zipping around like we saw in Hue; joggers aplenty; hundreds of individuals practising Falun Gung exercises, lost in their own thoughts; couples canoodling on benches overlooking the water. The bridge to the temple island was swarming with people worshipping for New Year/Tet or watching those who were; bridge, temple and surounds are now awash with coloured lights (new since our last visit, not sure if they're permanent or just for Tet). We even saw 'frogdogs*' again - tiny long-legged chihuahuas that make our little Charlotte seem huge. There are miniature Doberman pincers too, many rugged up in fluffy jumpers; one of them sped off around the lake in the other direction only to pass us again on the other shore.
After a happy lap of the lake we set off down the main strip to the restaurant. The main street is a lot busier than we remember, and we got our first taste of the "big city" when a would-be thief tried to open Plane Boy's laptop bag. (Our hotel room doesn't have a safe so we took it with us.) No harm done, though, and we eventually found the restaurant: an absolutely tiny two-level plcae down a side street. All the tables in the downstairs area (about the size of our living room) were full so we were directed up stairs the width of aeroplane seats to the bedroom-sized second level, which still managed to contain five tables. No menus, evryone gets the same: fantastic pho, the noodle soup Nerdia pines for. A plate full of cooked vermicelli, a huge mound of fresh greens (and purples), one bowl each filled with broth plus meat (this version had grilled bacon-style pork and small beef patties). Extra broth with sliced squash of some sort, fried spring rolls (a bit cool and crab-filled for somewhat fastidious Nerdia), minced onion and chilli garnish, lim wedges, and away you go. Delish! Didn't hang around as new customers kept coming, cash was taken without a second glance downstairs as people crowded in and out.
That's it for today, an early night then lots of exploring tomorrow. Surprisingly temperate today (boo!) but the forecast is for a return to cold weather, so here's hoping.
- We dubbed them 'frogdogs' after we laughed ourselves silly watching one try to catch a large frog the last time we were here. Pretty evenly matched.