Daze Later

The days flow by in a daze of heat and gastronomic delight. To add to my comfort level I moved into a room with a view.

View from Joy Hotel balcony.
View from Joy Hotel balcony.

Unfortunately it’s so hot I never sit out there. So I miss seeing the great view of Bat Su with all the patrons of the small cafés sitting on their wee stools. I see them as I stroll in and out of the hotel several times a day, however. I seem to have fallen into a routine of mornings out, afternoons (the hottest part of the day) in and evenings out again. Of course this does coincide with meal times.

On one of my morning strolls I spotted a rare piece of Hanoi graffiti in an alley. I think a few of the residents were surprised to see me photographing it, as they might see it as counter revolutionary.

Hanoi graffiti
Hanoi graffiti

But there are many stranger sights to see while wandering the streets….

A Small Deer in a Hanoi Window
A Small Deer in a Hanoi Window

I think the fellow reading the paper was quite startled to see the encroachment of wildlife in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. I’m starting to get a sense of some of the main streets in the Old Quarter and even managing to keep the name changes straight. There are many little side streets still to explore though.

I did go on a longer motorcycle ride to my first job interview, which introduced me to more of the city. We whizzed along, me clutching my document folder under my arm, cutting through a large parking lot, going against traffic to make a turn. A 15 min. ride for under $3. Where else can you get such a cheap thrill? The interview went well but what with the economic downturn and the threat of swine flu I was told that enrollment in the school was down. So… no promises, but I may get some part-time work there. It might take awhile to save up for this beauty 1953 Citroen I have my eye on. If Sue can have her ’64 Pontiac should I not have a ’53 something? The first of these I saw parked on a street in the Old Quarter in front of a jewelry store. They are so low-slung and cool looking.

1953 Citroen
1953 Citroen

Just down the street I spotted a more common form of transport:

Hanoi bicycle with charcoal in carriers.
Hanoi bicycle with charcoal in carriers.

I think the charcoal is used in many of the street side cookers. Just after I saw this bike I did see a cooker spewing smoke out onto the street. Besides the heat the smoke and exhaust fumes contribute to my not wanting to walk the streets all day. Otherwise I’d be out there all the time as it’s so fascinating. The kids are great. I see them piled onto scooters with their folks, sitting down for dinner outside their homes checking out what’s going on with the mannequins.

Checking out the Mannequins
Checking out the Mannequins

On the weekends there’s a large street market that goes on for blocks, probably a couple of kilometers long. Most of the the stalls sell clothing and accessories along with plastic knick-knacks, bootleg CDs and DVDS ad and a few souvenir items.

Hanoi Street Market
Hanoi Street Market

It’s nice strolling in the night with a bit of a breeze to help cool things off. I checked out the T-shirts, looking for interesting mis-spellings, took a gander at the fake Gucci bags and watched the locals. The scene is so vibrant it’s hard to take in prolonged doses but I’m gradually acclimatizing. I wouldn’t mind smelling some fresh Pender Island air but at some time I’m sure I’ll get into the countryside. In the meantime I’ll keep exploring Hanoi, spiraling outwards from the Old Quarter, looking for new food delights, new neighborhoods and visit the many museums and galleries.


  1. Hey Kelly;
    love your blog…and to think I’ve never blogged before;What am I missing. Your travel journals are always a joy to follow and are well written and pictured. Vietnam will certainly be an interesting journey and likely very challenging at times, I would assume. I am curious to know how much of the language You understood prior to arriving there and do any or many of the citizenry understand english? I recall getting by quite nicely,during our time in Nanning, By gesticulation and sign language. There was a well spoken young man in the dining room at the hotel who spoke english surprisingly well,relatively any way, for a self taught. We bonded easily with him(John) and maintain contact to this day. I am enthusiastic to journey to vietnam one day and so would like to ask You if you can recommend any good reads on the country with, at least, a condensed history and a modern demograhic of the whole country. I would be grateful for Your advice. Best regards and do try the eel during your culinary explorations…I just gotta know what that is all about! Jud out.

    1. Hi Jud,
      My Vietnamese is pretty minimal so far. I can say ‘No’ and ‘Thank you’ and there’s a couple of other phrases I still don’t remember, but it’ll give me something to work on. Most people our generation and younger know some English and some people are quite fluent. The students go to school for half a day and then the other half many go for English lessons (of course we’re talking about those who can afford it). But many just pick it up through interaction with tourists. Occasionally someone strikes up a conversation just so that they can practice. It’s always a bit tricky to know if they want to practice their English or sell you something.
      Other than the Lonely Planet and a bit of research on the net I didn’t do any prep reading (I just didn’t have time). At some point I’m going have to find a good book on how Vietnam made the transition to the where it’s at today: a mix of Communism and capitalism, similar to China but smaller.
      Eel, yes, well, I’m sure I’ll get there but the fish and veggie options so far have satisfied my needs. I did go Indian last night which was good but strange to use a knife and fork ;o)
      Drop by any time. I’m just hanging out, looking for a job and working on the computer. Would like to go out into the countryside but feel I need to stick around in case I get a call for work. Feel like a yo-yo: happy to be here, and then, missing home.
      Ciao for now,

  2. TenQ for the reply Kelly-i. Won’ be making such a trip in the forseeable near future, so I have plenty of time to inquire at the local book mongers about vietnam. I can sympathize with your situation. One must remain present and focused yet allow the flow of life take its’ course uninterrupted. Only Zen can we realize spiritual harmony and bliss! Howzat for phsycological empowerment! For real, just know our thoughts are with You and positve energy flows uninterupted so that we might help you realize your goals on a superconcious level. Dharmakaya Jud at your service…jud out.

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