Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hello Hanoi

We arrived in Hanoi about 1pm Saturday afternoon after a few hard fought vinos on Malaysian Airlines, and too many hours at KL Int. Airport. Malaysian Airlines are a little stingy with their drinks, but the whole "service" provides entertainment in lieu of real in flight entertainment. For those interested the plane was a 737/800.
Arrival in Vietnam was easy, way too easy, and a little amusing. Marie and I had some duty free booze and we wanted to go throught the customs declaration line but there was no one attending to that line, so we asked the guy in the nothing to declare line what to do - he asked what we had - we said two bottles of booze - he said "oh alcohol - no problems" and waved us through - I was liking this place already. We quickly found our ride, and were off to town in a flash.
The surrounds reminded me a little of India, well any developing country. Plenty of scooters and bikes on the road - lots of helmets though that's unlike India, however not sure how much a jockeys helmet is going to save you. It was only 20 minutes into the 50 minute road trip to town that I heard some Christmas tunes on the radio. Our driver changed from a CD to radio - possibly to hear the news, then after that came George Micheal singing "Last Christmas", followed by some chick singing "Santa Baby", then "Rock around the Christams Tree" - Brenda Lee I think. I was crying with laughter, and Marie and I had a bit of a sing along too, much to the delight of our driver who thought we loved it. Another 5 minutes down the road I spied the first of the many Christmas decorations we would see all day. In fact our hotel is just around the corner from Christmas decorations street, where you can go to buy your Santa suit, and other Chrissy decs! I will not be spending much there me thinks.
We arrived at our hotel in the old quarter about 2pm, checked in, conducted all the necessary formalities, then showered before stepping out into the Hanoi streets.
I love Hanoi street life, a little like India, particularly in the tiny streets of the old quarter minus the color of the saris and salwars, and the absolute beauty of the Indians. Anyway mission one was to get prescription sunglasses - something that required more than a little patience. Unlike India English appears to not be widespread, and coupled with the fact that I'm an idiot and left my prescription in the hotel, which equalled interesting situations, a few potential eye examinations, much head shaking and finally a place that knew what I wanted. Suffice to say I think the people here are lovely, really gentle and pleasant.
After that was accomplished (wonder what I will end up with), we all strolled around the streets and checked out the street life which is really cool. A few beers, some delicious dinner, mine came with a hair but was still yummy, and we were set, though ready for bed. A night cap of Baileys (it's quite cold here) and I was asleep despite the horns and street noise. Can't wait for day two!!

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