A failed attempt at being a tourist in Ha Noi
We left Winter Hostel in Ha Noi because the room was very dark and depressing. A decent suggestion by Tripadvisor was Aurora Hotel on Ma May street. En route, I came across hawkers which reminded me more of Kolkata suburbs.
By the time, me and Nandy made it to Aurora, we had very less time to go around the city of Ha Noi. The nearest attraction was the Hoan Kiem lake. The lake houses a temple of Confucius. We decided not to get inside and move to somewhere else.
Later that night we revisited the lake (because it was close to our new accommodation). The vibe was very different. There were activities like callisthenics and waltz being conducted with portable equipment.
The area around Hoan Kiem lake specialises in various clothing and accessories. Each lane is dedicated to a different kind of apparel. We bought hats from one of the lanes. I have this hunch that we paid tourist price for the hats, which is like 1.5-2 times the local price. 10 USD for two hats might be a bit on the expensive side (and this was after bargaining). I wanted to buy one because it was too hot and sunny.
We took a rickshaw from the lake to an ancient site called The Temple of Literature. I am quite sure that the 80k VND we bargained for a 2.3 km distance was also a tourist rate. We ended up paying 10k VND more because the rickshaw driver insisted that we were heavy and he needed a beer!!
There is not much to see at the Temple of Literature. It is one of the oldest university where students were taught many subjects and were tested by the king himself. Now, what I found weird was the fact that the king would have to be more knowledgeable than the students in order to assess them. If I know anything about hereditary monarchy, the chances of such scenarios is not guaranteed in each term or generation.
We met Mogit (Amit Prabhakar) who flew in from Singapore at this place and proceeded towards the Hoa Lo prison. By the time we reached the entrance, it was already 5.00 pm and the guard refused to issue us a ticket. I wasn’t disappointed.
(K)Ekta Kapoor and her gang is omnipresent
Apparently the Hindi TV soap operas are destroying countries other than India. This is what I found running on TV. I suggest that our government stop this Rafale / Eurocopter thing, pull the plug on nuclear weapon research and channel the entire fund towards getting our soap operas dubbed in as many languages as possible.
If this 5 year old serial wasn’t enough, the current craze amongst women is this TV series called Cô dâu 8 tuổi (click to know its Hindi name).
Sampling food in Ha Noi
One of the interesting projects in Ha Noi is the KOTO project which stands for Know one, teach one. Here, underprivileged kids are given opportunity to work in a restaurant. Simultaneously, they are taught various subjects in order to accelerate their growth and become a respected member of the society. Charity aside, the restaurant does a western spin on traditional cuisine which puts the food in a league of its own.
Vietnamese coffee is so different from what we are used to. This time I decided to sample the coffee from a proper coffee shop.
We also had some green tea from the pavement in front of Hoa Lo prison. It was stronger than what I am used to.
The street food in Vietnam is something one must sample. We had our dinner yesterday from a shop on the streets in Old Quarter. Even today, for our dinner, we decided to sample some other stuff from the same area.
Old Quarter is a crazy place during the weekends
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 8.00 pm to 11.00 pm, a part of the Old Quarter is barricaded by police. Motor vehicles are banned.
During this time, the streets are taken over by performers and fashion conscious pedestrians. The entire area descends into madness. And, madness is good!
No wonder, a friend of Nandy strongly suggested that we stay in Old Quarter and nowhere else.