Museum, Lake and More
07.02.2012 - 08.02.2012 15 °C
Disclaimer: Nerdia has had 4 (admittedly rather dilute) cocktails. Blog content may not match reality.
Whoops, didn't blog yesterday. Here's what we got up to:
Spent the morning at the Ethnology Museum, just outside the city centre. We visited one of these during our 2008 South-East Asia Odyssey, and in the taxi on the way there we wondered aloud if this was the same one. Turns out it was - but they've extended it since then, and even the exhibits we'd seen before were still very interesting. Nerdia might upload a few photos from our previous visit... or maybe not. Highlights were the ostentatiously tall decorated ceremonial pole in the entrance hall (where did its creators store it?) and the ludicrously lofty ceremonial thatched-roof house: 19m tall pitched roof, 3m off the ground. Several betrothed couples were having their wedding photos taken in the grounds; we overheard a guide saying it's customary for couples to do this several months or even a year ahead of the wedding and that the guests receive copies of all the photos on CD. (Back in our day CDs didn't even exist... try telling that to the kids of today. They won't believe you.)
We intended to have a late lunch at a nearby place recommended by our hotel helper/stalker (seriously, she remembers EVERYTHING about us), but sadly the teeny tiny outdoor plastic stools were a tad small for Plane Boy. Instead we ate at a rather kitsch Western-style diner around the corner called Pickles (which has photos of pickles on the walls but not listed on the menu). Seriously yummy burgers and rolls, plus a revelation: warm potato chips! We liked it so much that Plane Boy returned for tea (Nerdia was so full she didn't even want any tea).
Then we ventured into 'Book Street': highly recommended by hotel stalker but not a lot in English. Still, the ice cream bars were interesting: one large place catering for local youth, where customers drive their scooters right inside and park pell-mell, with uniformed officials yelling while the bright young things wander out in romantic pairs clutching rather run-of-the-mill-looking cones. We ate next door, in the empty ice cream parlour full of of delicious-looking cakes and bored-looking staff.
That was yesterday. Here's today:
Nerdia had been aching for A Day At The Lake, doing nothing but ambling slowly around Hoan Kiem Lake all day, hopefully in the cold, watching the passing parade and grabbing the odd coffee. Weather was most obliging: 15oC max with a decidedly cold breeze whipping up across the water. Had a leisurely coffee or two at a lakeside cafe, saw a cute little frogdog rugged up in a little doggy jumper... even spotted the fabled lake turtles a few times. Revisited the island with the Chinese temple (complete with macabre stuffed and glazed huge turtle specimen), mainly so Nerdia could reprise her photo of the bridge. We also took shots of each other holding a print of N's 2008 photo in front of the bridge, setting up "tunnel shot" for future visits. Plus Plane Boy was wayliad by a gaggle of Asian girls eager for a series of photos with the Giant White Man. (This happens everywhere we go; on this trip people have greeted him as Happy Buddha since day 1. The first bloke to do so also offered us marijuana, but that's another story.)
Turns out a morning at the lake was enough, so for lunch Plane Boy tracked down our favourite restaurant on our previous visit to Hanoi. He had delectable squid again (eat your heart out, Chris J!), whereas Nerdia tried 'Russian salad' - basically potato salad as it turned out.
After a siesta we stumbled onto a fabulous maze of nearby streets: crazy narrow alleys thick with scooters and selling everything from jade talismans to gorgeous lacquerware to Tin Tin plaques. Fantastic!
Dinner was yummy pho bo (beef noodle soup) and grilled pork at a funky upstairs restaurant a few streets from our hotel... along with N's aforementioned cocktails. Yay!
Phew, that was a long blog entry. That's it for today!