Sunday, 18 October 2015

Getting colonially comfy in Hanoi (or Rabbit with mushrooms)

I’m awake at 4:30  after only about 4 hours of sleep; I’m just too excited about the week ahead.

At 5 am I creep downstairs to see whether they have unlocked the front door yet.  NOPE. It’s pitch dark and I see figures sleeping on the entrance couches.  Let them have some sleep; I can wait a bit longer.  At quarter to 6 I can’t wait any longer.  The day’s light illuminates the scene. 1 person sleeps in a chair by the entrance, while 2 share 1 couch head to toes.  I manage to unlock the bicycle lock quietly but notice a stirring in the corner of my vision when I put it down on the marble flooring.

By 6:30 am I am semi-confident that the hotel staff should be awake and I cross the lobby and enter the streets of Hanoi.

the food vendor women are schlepping already
But otherwise the streets are still quite empty

The route to the lake is easy walking, an experience much different from the hopscotch during the busy times of the day.
Good fortune brought me here at this time of day.
Elderly ladies are doing their Tai Chi by the lake shore

Flower and fruit vendors present their wares on the pavement, on bikes and on those balanced-scales carried by booms over their  shoulders.

During a brief visit to the Hanoi hotel I stayed in 2 nights ago, I am shocked that 2 different people remember my name. O.K., they remember various combinations of my first and middle names, but that’s pretty darned good ;-)

I’ve made up my mind:  Stuff yourselves with those $400 / night hotel rooms in Hong Kong you swine; I’m cancelling my flight and I’m staying in Vietnam. US$27/night for the penthouse with hotel staff that's actually happy to see me staying in their hotel.  The difference between those hotel prices leaves much room for exorbitant  tips to Vietnamese.

I spend the day going in and out, walking over the less than 2 blocks to the old hotel (they DO NOT have that internet bug there that doesn't let me access Blogger from my hotel but everything else) and back. On one such occasion,  I started talking to the Mong, the receptionist before I opened my laptop.  We talked for over an hour.  Lovely bright witty  woman of 34 years of age. Had I not talked to her, I would have left Vietnam without knowing anything  of  Vietnam ;-).
This German adapts well to the Colonial lifestyle.  Maybe it’s the ¼ French in me, that lets me so enjoy my chocolate and kiwi ice cream bowl in a Deco-style café right by the lake in former French Indochina.  Fans enforce the ~28 degree Celsius breeze through the open windows, which probably is a good thing, since there are no smoking laws in effect here (OK, maybe in doctor’s offices)
OMG, the Vietnamese make GOOD ice cream. Chocolate and Kiwi again. The stuff the Italians sell in Vancouver is crap compared to this stuff !

Let's hope it'll be electric by the time he's allowed to drive

I refresh my stockpile of mandarins in this woman's store
I'm writing this sitting at the lake shore in the decadent cafe at 6:30 pm, after she had to decline my dinner invitation. Now anyone who knows me also knows that I'm not the type that invites newly-met people for dinner, so that should be a sign of how fab she is. But she is also a great source of info about Vietnam.

She makes US$ 200 per month, she does a fabulous job (she is the one who escorted this winy sick old man to his new hotel a few days ago ;-)  

There is not enough housing in Vietnam and the biggest buck wins out as everywhere else.  So now I know why the couches in my hotel's reception area are occupied by at least the receptionist every night.
General health insurance apparently does not exist in Vietnam.
Rabbit with mushrooms and vegetables.

The girth of the patrons suggests that they are not Vietnamese

I walk by the night market again, but  I'm getting tired, so I refrain from indulging.

Following my  colonial comfy agenda, I  decide to  visit a small establishment that I have witnessed on maps and  by eye because it is located three doors down from my hotel.  The Hanoi Social Club.  The reason this spurs my curiosity,  of course,  is that other one in Cuba, The Buena Vista Social Club, which I have never seen in the flesh because it closed decades ago, but which was immortalized by  Wim Wender's film of the same name.  Can't  watch THIS CLIP  often enough  ;--) 

Where am I again?  NO, this ain't Cuba (although I am in one of other few remaining Communist  countries); 
Right,  I'm in the Hanoi Social Club.

The ground level is quite small (apparently there are other levels and a garden) but I like the canned music  being played instantly. After trying to see any kind of writing on the menu in the dimly lit surroundings, I give up and order what lured me in here in the first place.  A croissant with some Chinese/Vietnamese-sounding jam.

I'm knocking on wood that all this food behaves myself, because I've done it again.  
Tomorrow is THE DAY !!!!

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