Sunday, July 19, 2015

Don't Get Sick in Hanoi

By the time I'd gotten off the train in Hanoi, I was a hot mess. The train ride here was ten times nicer than the last train, but by this time my cold was in full stride and I couldn't sleep without coughing my head off every 20 minutes. I found a pharmacy and picked up something that sounded like it would help and tried to nap, but room service is not an option and sleeping was hard anyways so each day I'd still venture out to get food, usually in soup form, and explore a bit. Most of the city is pretty walkable and my hotel was pretty close to almost everything, plus for once the hot humid air actually felt nice to my irritated lungs (we'll ignore the smog). Most of the city hangs out around the Lake of the Restored Sword (Hoan Kiem Lake), which is right in the center of town. In the middle of the lake on one side stands the Turtle Tower (Thap Rua) and on the other side stands the Temple of Jade which is connected to the shore by the brightly colored red iconic Huc-bridge. Young couples stroll the pathways around the lake and buy cheap ice cream from cart vendors. I happened to be here for the Vietnamese Independence Day, the day they won the war against the US, and there were fireworks over the lake as well as a music concert set up nearby. There was a festive mood all around as many people had a few days off for the occasion and the crowds were out en masse. I wondered around the lake for a while and then headed over to the Temple of Literature. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius it was filled with groups of school kids in uniforms taking what looked like graduation photos. I wondered over to the gardens around Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, though I didn't go inside, I walked past the Presidential Palace, checked out a sculpture exhibit outside of the Ho Chi Minh museum, and pulled up a plastic chair for a popular local spread called Hanoi Bun Cha. The dish comes with delicious shrimp fried spring rolls, two types of beef, rice noodles, cucumbers, spiced broth and a giant pile of mixed herbs to mix in. It was a ton of food and the broth was just the thing to soothe my throat. I stopped by a small cafe near St. Joseph's Cathedral for some iced tea and checked out a nearby Lenin park, which was full of skateboarders before heading back to the hotel. The next day I wandered around a bit, picked up a loaded up banh mi sandwich from a popular stand in town and some snacks and then holed up in the hotel to try and get better quicker before heading out to Halong Bay. 

Gorgeous gate doors at the Temple of Literature

Many small figurines like this adorn various nooks around the temple

The turtle statues are dedicated to various teachers and scholars who've made
great contributions at the temple since inception

The temple is well loved and maintained with fresh offerings everywhere

Various masks and statues can be purchased in one of 
many gift shops around the temple

I just can't get over the derpy looking tiger reliefs

Military guards patrol the area around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

One of the cooler carved statues on display in front of the Ho Chi Minh museum

The Presidential Palace is behind heavy iron gates, but can still be seen from the road

Lunch, served on a small table already packed with locals who know
that this vendor makes the best version of this dish around

It looked like only tourists were interested in St. Josephs Cathedral

A statue of Lenin stands in the park named after him and I can't help but be
amused by the way his name is written on the pedestal 

Just a spoiled little temple cat napping in the sun

One of the best spots for Banh Mi sandwiches. They pack them to go
in cute cardboard boxes with a banana. Perfect lunch on the run.

Pretty much anything can be bought off the back of a bike, 
including lovely flowers for your sweetie.

Iconic Red Huc Bridge to the Temple of Jade 

Somewhere in that pile is the vendor selling balloons and toys for the 
crowds who are wondering the streets and enjoying the holiday weekend

No comments:

Post a Comment