Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day #2 Hanoi 12.20.08

This morning we woke up and went in search of some lunch. We stopped for snacks on the fruit cup street. Our friend, Alex, had shown us this little alley. Fruit cups are fresh fruit with sweet condensed milk, coconut milk, yogurt, and ice all in a cup to eat. We got ours to go so they also blended ours. They were soooooo good. Like heaven in a cup. We drank our fruit cups as we walked to get lunch. We went to a little family owned place in food alley. The restaurant has been owned by the same family forever. There is a picture of the now owner’s great-great-grandmother making the ky dong on the door. Another suggestion from our friend, Alex. We had the ky dong which is a noodle like crepe filled with rice and pork. They make them right there in the doorway. Then we also had spring rolls, nem. Paul also ordered a bowl of pho bo which is hot soup with beef and noodles. Lunch was yummy. The family lives above their restaurant and I am sure the place is filled with many generations and extended family. There were people everywhere helping with this and that. The story is that the place was opened before the war and continued to stay open during the war. It is a neat little place and we plan to go back for some other dishes that Alex recommended.

After lunch, we found a coffee shop to set up in for a while. We wanted to sit down and figure out the plan for Hanoi and how long we would stay. So we went to Moca CafĂ© near St. Joseph’s Cathedral. I had a Heineken and Paul had an iced black Vietnamese coffee. I made a list of the things we want to see hear and looked at the map. After getting together a plan, we hired a cyclo (a bike with a bench on the front) to take us to the Hoa Lo Prison Museum. This is the prison where the US Pilots that were captured during the war were kept. This is also the place that many Vietnamese were kept during the time when the French were in power here in Hanoi. Lots of history here and lots of things to read about the past. They have a room dedicated to the US Pilots that includes pics of John McCain when he was captured. He was shot down over a lake and then rescued (I guess) by the Vietnamese and then kept here. His flight suit is on display. I am sure that their time here was not ideal, but it was not as depressing as I had expected. I am sure the story is a bit jaded since the museum was made by the local people. Paul and I have learned that the images and stories represented are not the whole story. I am definitely interested in learning more about the war and Vietnam. It is a fascinating time and a time also filled with devastation.

After the museum we decided to get our tickets to see the water puppets. This is a huge thing on the “to do list” for folks when they come to Hanoi. On our way to the theater, we stopped for another fruit cup. This time we sat and enjoyed. Everyone sits on little stools out front and eats. So fun!!! Although there were a few times I thought I would get hit by a motorbike. I did not though. J We could not get tickets for any show until tomorrow evening, so we went bag shopping and are now sitting having another coffee. Go figure. The view from the coffee shop is nice and I took some video of the traffic from above. I have decided that Vietnam is the land of honking horns. Alex told us that taxi drivers feel bad if they are not honking their horns. ?!?!? Ok, cars, taxis, scooters, cyclos---they all have horns or bells and use them constantly.

We are both getting hungry and are trying to figure out what we should eat.

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