Friday, December 12, 2008

Hello Hanoi

We arrived in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi late at night around 11pm and went straight to our hotel. The hotel was located in the Old Quarter, which was dead silent when we got there. Not as chaotic as we thought it would be, especially for Vietnam. Well that all changed the following morning when the city came to life.

The old quarter of Hanoi was designed by the French and has tiny narrow streets that start off as one name and turn into another, cross, turn and meander into a maze of streets that are named for particular crafts. For example there is furniture street, clothing street, sunglass street, fabric street, metal works street, buttons and notions street, wood carving street, headstone street, packaged food street, sweets and baked goods street, it goes on and on.

The old quarter and the rest of Hanoi, we soon discovered, is vibrant, crazy and energetic – in other words we really liked it immediately. We first headed to the Hoan Kiem Lake in which the city is centered around.

There are two temples located on the lake and we crossed the bridge to check out the one open to public.

After a morning of sightseeing we headed back into the old quarter in search of breakfast. We found a street-side restaurant advertising My Van Than (Wonton with egg/wheat noodles) and Sui Cao (wontons with woodear mushrooms and glass noodles), exactly what we wanted.

We sat down and ordered two bowls of Sui Cao.

The chilies on the table added extra umph.

We were now fueled up and ready to explore the open/wet market just a few roads down. We love, love, love open/wet markets and the ones in Asia are incredible. Due to climate you can do your shopping everyday and get the freshest and most vibrant ingredients for the day's meals – where are those Masa Moto knives now?

In Japan we did a lot of window shopping, partially because our packs were so heavy we couldn’t imagine even buying a t-shirt and partially because the stores are uber modern, funky and fun to browse in. In Hanoi, we could have easily loaded up with spices and gone home with bags of souveniors.

We were most interested in the unique Asia d├ęcor, painting and home goods. And if couldn’t find what you wanted in a store, the ladies selling goods would bring it to you.

We managed to refrain by buying everything in sight and only partook in the wonderful street eats.

These pork skewers, grilled on a charcoal grill right on the street were by far the best pork skewers we have ever had and at 3000 Vietnamese Dong, that’s 11¢, we could have bought a whole dollars worth! The pork was marinated in a heavy lemongrass sauce (lemongrass is so fresh in Vietnam unlike anything we get in the states) which made the pork tender and the charcoal grill added a smoky flavor that was seriously to die for.


Unknown said...

Hello Vietnam!!! Oh, I can taste the Pho now, and it is GOOD. Glad you guys decided to do the street vendors, you really get to experience the local culture. Believe me last time I went, the best times I had were pulling up a plastic mini stool and chow down on whatever the vendor was dishing out.

christineburgess said...

I'm going out now for pho.