chúc mừng năm mới – Tết 2012

23 Jan

We had breakfast at our hotel and I unleashed my secret weapon and number one best thing I’ve packed:

or How to Make Any English Person in the Room Jealous. Yum.

We checked out of our hotel and down about 3 doors as negotiated a 10$ discount on a double room (so $15 a night including breakfast). This hotel is much nicer (instant hot water!) and the room is massive :)

We wandered around Hanoi a bit longer – we’re having to stay here a little longer than planned because the New Year celebrations means everything pretty much shuts down for a couple of days, including the buses etc, whilst everyone visits their families.

We then had tea at an Indian restaurant…we couldn’t resist the smell as we walked past. We had the works for around 430,000 dong (£13) which is relatively expensive but as there was a lot of food and it was delicious we didn’t mind. Afterwards we met Andy and Dennis for coffee by the lake

and drinks at the Gecko bar.

After a nice lie-in, we got up to see all the decorations that had been put out across the city:

In every building (even empty shops) there is a little shrine with offerings of cigarettes, food, alcohol, kinds of cake made out of rice (representing the moon) and fruit (representing the sun). I was told the leaf package in the background was also a kind of cake which got me excited but then the guy I asked about it said it was made out of sticky rice and meat which sounded a bit less appetising.

We went shopping for a bit and then had a meal at Pepperonis as Andy and Dennis prefer Western food. On the way back we found a proper beer corner – there’s one in the Old Quarter but it’s full of travellers – and beer for 9,000 dong/28p.

The crowds of Vietnamese men who were drinking there for New Year’s Eve seemed to think it was great that we had joined them for a drink so a group of them bought us the first round. They also gave packets of Thang Long cigarettes and took pictures of us with their group. No one spoke each other’s languages but it was quite fun trying to guess what each other was saying :) One of the Vietnamese men who bought us a drink got up to say goodbye and then went to get the keys for his scooter. He was clearly battered so his friend came round to convince him to try to sober up first. The first guy waved him away telling him he was fine…and then fell sideways into the road in front of a taxi as soon as he got on his bike. He thought this was very funny and after he was helped up, he waved and veered off into oncoming traffic with both his feet off the bike on the road to try and keep his balance. Hopefully he got home ok!

Dennis and Andy both left that night – Dennis to Bangkok and Andy to continue riding his bike to Sapa and then to Laos – so we said our goodbyes and went off to find some street food. I’m glad we met them in Halong, they were a nice guys and the last few days with them have been fun. We found a little place opposite our hotel where you barbequed your own food – similar to the place we went the other day but it looked like there was more variety

We had half a plate of pork and half a plate of beef, some veg, rice and the same chilli, sugar and lime marinade. We barbequed it all up and had two beers, plus one for the receptionist at our hotel as I think he was a bit gutted he couldn’t join in with all the New Year parties. When we got up to leave the waiter said we owed 5 million dong/£156. We laughed and then he said 1 millon/£31. We laughed again, a little bit less hard this time. He then settled on 600,000/£19, which, although still cheap by English standards, is very expensive for a meal and two or three drinks here, especially from street vendors. I popped into the hotel and asked the receptionist, who said it was a fair price given it was New Year’s Eve. Lesson learned – ask how much before you sit down! The barbeque place we went to three doors down charged 300,000 dong for a meal for four. But, given that it didn’t exactly break the bank and it was very nice, it wasn’t the end of the world.

We could have gone to see the fireworks at the lake in the centre but as they were at midnight, it was already freezing (trousers, jumper, hoodie, coat and scarf freezing) and foggy, we decided to give them a miss and go to bed. We heard them throughout the night but didn’t see any as it was very cloudy and foggy. There was no one about the next morning – everyone had clearly had a very good night. We got to walk on the pavement for a change during our wander this morning and found a little stall doing coffee and cake

We also managed to find some cheaper food for lunch…a massive plate of beef, pak choi and noodles and two drinks for 140,000 dong. Much more like it :)

And because there was no one around, we got more of a chance to stop and take some pictures

Tiger skin for sale – it stank

Balancing act – nothing is too big to fit on a scooter. We’ve seen people with 50 bags of live fish, hundreds of packets of toilet roll, live chickens and pigs on their scooters and wardrobes on the back of a push bike.

Electricians look away now:

If we get time before we leave we will try and meet up with Pedro in Hanoi who was one of the tour leaders we met last year through Tucan Travel. As transport should be up and running again tomorrow, we are going to try to get a bus to Ninh Binh to see the national park there so the timing might not work out but fingers crossed we will get to see him.

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4 Responses to “chúc mừng năm mới – Tết 2012”

  1. Hannah 24 January 2012 at 10:20 am #

    mmm meat cake lol. Sounds like you are having a great time, fantastic photos! Say hi to Craig

    • toaustraliathelongway 24 January 2012 at 11:10 am #

      yes it didn’t sound good. We are thanks although where we’ve just got to is freezing! Need warmer clothes! He says hi xx

  2. ¡Don't HOLA at me! 15 April 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    I’m really enjoying your blog and I’m quite jealous – I would love to travel around all these places!! I love how you took marmite with you by the way, I have the NZ version here with me in Mexico! Yum!

    • toaustraliathelongway 16 April 2012 at 1:47 am #

      Thank you! I hope you get there but sounds like you’re having a good time. Mexico/south America is on our list of places to go next time so will keep reading yours for inspiration :) ah it was the food we missed the most on our hols last year so we couldn’t travel without it this time!! Love it!

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