3 nights and 2 days in Ha noi has been jam packed with culture diversity and mind blowing experiences.
From the street food and hawker eateries, to 40 year old tea and coffee houses, that are barely big enough to house the table and chairs inside……. let alone tall Aussie. I’m sure that’s why they say go upstairs- the view is lovely!
You then climb a steep ladder or skinny stairs as all the houses are old and traditional where the shop is down stairs and the family live upstairs or the restaurant starts down stairs and up it goes -they use all the space! Boy do they use all the space. I was a picturing the stairs collapsing as you look at the rusty corner rail.
The weather has been swell! Although a little humid and we have had 1 doozy of a storm, which we watched from inside the bar of our hotel!
After our epic day touring the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum etc. yesterday it was a lighter day today although it’s fair to say a few of us were a little dusty from drinking beers and cocktails the night before so as we arrived at the Hanoi Cooking School we were a little shabby.
We travelled down yet another alley way ( more about them later) to the most quaint little courtyard, that housed an equally cute book store and its next door to our cooking school. The Courtyard is also used as a restaurant, or corporate space. There is beautiful pots of bamboo reaching for the sun, San Pan hats as lights and cute little tables and chairs. And a bright bowl of floating gerbera flowers….. I’m not usually a fan of these flowers but they look amazing ! Keryn’s toes in this pic look shiny and nice after a hour long pedicure with a paraffin wax that pretty much gave us all 3rd degree burns.
We are offered traditional Vietnamese iced tea, which we feel bad about not drinking. Our only drink of choice this morning is “the black doctor” coke and water – oh and can I please have a bag of salty crisps to go with that please. Hangovers are us
Hung (seems to be a common name here ) our chef for the day introduces himself and before we know it, we are back on the street heading to a famous (wet) market….. and all I could think of was please god don’t let me vomit.
Snails, eels, fish of every variety all alive and all so fresh from Ha Long Bay, the closest area of fresh seafood that gets transported fresh every day. The market stall holders seem a little disinterested in us photographing their wares! Even when a carp fish jumps out of his small home, and Lindy tries to tell the stall holder and he just continued whatever he was doing on his phone…… He was probably – pun intended (man-ing the fort) until his wife came back!
They even have drive by shopping, via their ever trusty scooter of course! (see pic below)
These amazing women and men are often separated from the farmer families, who lives hours away. They get up around 2.00am to kill the pig and travel to the market. If they are lucky they leave at 11.00am as this means they have sold their pig and can go home until it all starts again for the dinner rush.
Most families work so a normal market shopping run takes place before 7.00am so the kids have breakfast before school.
It’s then back to cooking school for us where we learn how to make a more family style meal than a street food bowl of noodles.
Most of us ( sorry Lee) have all perked up a little. I love a good cooking class all lined up at our stations…… it’s a bit high school home economics, and a bit Masterchef!
I flew solo as there were 5 of us and was a bit of a teachers pet at the front, as we learn to how to make Ginger Chicken, Vietnamese rolls the yummy chilli and garlic dipping sauce and for dessert a Corn and Rice Soup……. it’s a little bit like runny rice custard and personally I’d leave the freshly grated sweet corn out! When in Vietnam…..
By this stage I have sweet talked Hung into taking me to the dry market to buy the rice paper ~ roll paper and these little chicken grill contraptions that I can’t wait to use on the open fire! Thank goodness he came and stayed as the 70 year old lady at the shop was so sweet screaming into her mobile phone (think old school Nokia 969) to her lazy son get me 10 of those grilled contraptions now! He arrived at a leisurely pace 10 minutes later and yep rode through the market on his scooter to deliver our bargains of 10 grills for $1.50 each.
A friend of ours Mark who has been to Vietnam like 15 times then told me they sell them in downtown Dee Why for $3- ! Well at least I can say I bought them in Ha Noi!
Our afternoon requires a power nap ? ? Before we walk down to the pretty red Huc Bridge that actually leads to a temple….. we didn’t go to the temple, just a quick photo shoot. Yes I took it at that angle! This is a blog about a wonky camera ?
We continue our walk past the posh dept stores of Gucci, Chanel and Cartier, and oh look Macdonalds- lets get a coke!
We continue along the street to the Women’s Museum, a wonderful insight into why~ to quote Mark ” the men sit around playing cards and drinking beer – because the women actually run/ran the country !
The museum is amazing 4 floors about Vietnamese women, political, nurses, fighters at war…. It’s a very powerful afternoon, looking through their heritage and traditions of child birth, marriage, asking the gods for blessings of children. Wow! Just wow!
Traditions, clothing, so many artefacts of years gone by and a great way to fill the afternoon before a stroll back past the lake bridge to the old quarter streets filled with treasures of clothing jewellery coffee and tea houses.
I have to share this beautiful quote that we read at the Museum- around parenting –
‘ It’s by climbing a mountain that we know how difficult it is – It’s by educating a child that we understand the sacrifices of parents ‘
Last night we had dinner on a balcony over looking the street. This was a recommendation from our friends Sandy and Mark. Vietnamese are a race that like to ‘save face’. If they don’t understand you- they just politely nod or give a vague answer…. We asked for a table on the street so we could people watch and the waitress said not today the weather……. Anyway we end up in what we like to call the private dining room balcony of the New Day Restaurant in down town Ha Noi eating the most amazing grilled eggplant, and feasting on duck and pork……
Now the alleys and laneways……. they are interesting and the first time Lee and I went down an alley to the shop owners home to get the 4 dollar singlet tops we wanted, it not only housed her cat on a lead, her child, a motorbike and t shirts, it was so dark I thought we might get mugged! I’ve lightened this pic up so you can see how skinny they are …
I’m now madly running out of time and about to jump on a bus for our Ha Long Bay departure to Cat Ba …… not sure about reception there so till next time and sorry if there are any errors in spelling!
Mrs Wong xxx