I started the day bright and early after crashing big time by 9pm last night, I woke up at 8am this morning.   Yup, a full 11 hours sleep!   I was one tired puppy!

I originally had only booked for 2 nights here in Hanoi because I didn’t really have a plan coming here.

As I started to figure things out I knew I had to have one more night here so I went downstairs to book the room again.

No beds in the dorm room!


For $12 more I could have a single private room.   Well, okay – twist my arm.

I quickly packed up my stuff and moved downstairs (no more 6th floor, yay) and setup in my nice, new room.

Thanks to all the help I got from Huwi yesterday I finally had a plan for my time here in Hanoi and neighboring Ha Long Bay.

I setup a 2 day tour to Ha Long Bay for tomorrow and a day trip to Hua Lu/Tam Coc for when I come back here in a couple of days.

I also booked a street food tour for tonight too.   More on that later…

After checking that all off my list and getting another amazing free breakfast in my belly, I headed out dodging motorcycles and cars to buy some warm clothes once and for all.

I had tried yesterday in vain because I kept believing there’d be cheap clothes around the next corner.   Alas, I never did find that elusive corner so today I went out with a higher budget in my head.

I went to the area of the Old Quarter where they sell clothing and popped in a few stores.   Nothing here has price tags which basically means you have to ask the price and then haggle it down.

I tried on some jackets only to find that while back home I’m normally a medium – here, I’m not a large but and XXXL.   Yup, three x’s!

Harder to find that size.

I finally found a jacket that fit me.   A Dolce & Gabbana to boot!   Well, maybe, who knows…

It does say made in Italy on the tag which is, in itself, kinda funny since I’m here in Vietnam.

She quoted a price of 700,000 dong ($35) and I countered with 400,000 ($20).   We met in the middle at 550,000 ($27).

I was busy patting myself on the back at my awesome haggling skills when I turned onto the next street and found jackets with a big 200,000 sign in front of them.   Sigh…

Lesson learned…

After buying some sweat pants for 170,000 ($9), I popped into a westernized eatery for a Vietnamese lunch of Seafood Fried Rice.

In the afternoon I locked myself in my room to, once and for all, figure out what the heck I would be doing the next two or so weeks here in Vietnam.

It took a couple of hours but by the time I emerged out of the room at 6pm I had it all figured out.

Yay!   Now I can sit back and relax and not worry about planning – at least for a couple of weeks, anyway.

At 6pm it was time for the street food tour I had booked earlier with Vietnam Awesome Travel ($25).

Our tour guide, Ha, went to 4 different hotels to pick up our little gang of 9 for this tour.

The eight other people were 4 couples:   Chad & Emily (Melbourne), Yen & Ron (Auckland), and Lex, Allen, Phylis & Robin (2 couples from Cairns).

So, yeah, I was a 9th wheel.   Nah, just kidding – it didn’t feel that way at all.   It was a great little group with mostly everyone being older.

Ha was an amazing tour guide who led us around the Old Quarter for a good three hours taking the time to explain what we were eating and even some history behind some of the life here in Hanoi.

Through the night I found out he has a wife and an almost one year old baby.   They all live in a 270 sq foot place for $150 a month.

When I asked if he owned or rented he laughed because it’s very, very hard to own here as people just don’t make anywhere close to enough money to be able to.

Okay, on to the food…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s 18,000 words.   Enjoy…

Deep fried eel (Luon chien) (10,000 dong, 50 cents)

Eel soup (Sup luon) (25,000 dong, $1.30)

Grinding sugar cane for…

Sugar cane juice with kumquat (Nuoc mia) (10,000 dong, 50 cents)

Vermicelli with beef, peanuts and coriander (Bun bo nam bo) (55,000 dong, $2.90)

Rice ball cake – rice and flour rolled together with brown sugar (Banh troi) (10,000 dong, 50c)

Coconut rice wine (Ruou dua)

Banana flower salad (Nom hoa chuoi) (65,000 dong, $3.40)
[caption]Green mango salad with seafood (Nom xoai hai san) (65,000 dong, $3.40)

Stir fried morning glory (aka spinach) with garlic (Rau muong xao toi) (45,000 dong, $2.30)

Grilled fish in Hanoi Style (Cha ca ha noi) (100,000 dong, $5)

Do it yourself wrapping of the Grilled fish in Hanoi Style – not bad if I do say so myself

Grilled pork on a stick (Thit xien nuong) (10,000 dong, 50 cents)

Me mowing down on the grilled pork on a stick (Thit xien nuong)

The makings of the sauce (fish sauce, vinegar and kumquat) for the rice pancake below

Steamed rice pancake (with mushroom inside) with pork sausage (Banh cuon & cha) (30,000 dong, $1.50)

Quack, quack waiting for us

Half a roasted duck (Vit quay) (115,000 dong, $6)

Egg coffee (cream made with egg yolk, sugar and vanilla) (Caje trung) (30,000 dong, $1.50)

Interesting note about street food, by the way – it’s actually illegal!   The cops turn a blind eye to it if they’re set up on the sidewalk but if they dare encroach on the street they’ll swoop in and confiscate everything from them!

Asia Trip 2014, Trip Journal

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