Tag Archives: Hanoi

Vietnam: a photo essay

I can’t find time to post this week which is crazy because I’ve got so many adventures to report on. Some of them are so far in the distant past (November and December!) that I can’t even recall the names of the people in the photos.
To cut through this serious blogging backlog I will photo-blog and you can fill in the witty commentary yourselves. This is way too easy.
Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam. December 2008.
Escaping the rain in a cozy bar in Hanoi

Escaping the rain in a cozy bar in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

Gateway at the Temple of Literature

Gateway at the Temple of Literature

Pool of Lillies at the Temple of Literature

Pool of Lillies at the Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

Indiana Nicole and the Temple of Literature

Indiana Nicole and the Temple of Literature

Halong Bay from Above

Halong Bay from Above

Houses on Halong Bay

Houses on Halong Bay

Pirate Ships in Halong Bay

Pirate Ships in Halong Bay

PINEAPPLE! Kids selling fruit to tourists at Halong Bay (I bought some delicious passionfruit)

"PINEAPPLE!" Kids selling fruit to tourists at Halong Bay (I bought some delicious passionfruit)

Christmas day in Hanoi

Wow, that was the longest break between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ever! If kids had to wait as long as my readers did for Christmas Day they’d wage war against Santa.
So after a late night of revelry on Christmas Eve, celebrating Vietnam’s soccer victories, it was time to get up and do the business of Christmas. Turns out that the business of Christmas in Hanoi (when you plan accordingly) is the same as everywhere else. You eat and eat and eat until you can eat no more.
We decided to go somewhere nice on Christmas day. This was made incredibly easy because Nicole knows all the right people and got us free lunch at the Intercontinental Hotel. Oh, did I mention the complimentary bottle of Roederer champagne?
hanoi-christmas-nicole

Christmas dinner by the window

Simone, Cat and I arrived at lunch to find Nicole waiting for us at an elaborately decorated table with a view. We exchange gifts (I forgot that Nicole was the gift-giving master, this part was extremely fun) and got started on the buffet. Because we were in a fancy hotel and not Smorgies there was an air of grace to our binging. When we piled food on our plates we did so with our pinkies extended.

hanoi-christmas-cat

So much food!

There was every conceivable food at this buffet so we ate and ate and ate all sorts of things, and then decided it was time to settle into the traditional Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner

Sadly, the eating and eating and eating didn’t warm up the troops for battle, it just weakened the battle stations and we were overthrown early.

Christmas dinner wins

Christmas dinner wins

And then we ate dessert…

but surely there is room for a little more

but surely there is room for a little more

We emerged from battle sometime in the afternoon and made it all the way to the hotel pool before taking a rest.

working off the meal

working off the meal

After an extended lounging period by the pool, we made our way back to the hotel and found Bridget Kelly wandering the streets of Hanoi. We made phone and skype calls to various families and then decided to make the most of Christmas in a non-Christian country and went shopping.

’twas the night before Christmas

I arrived in Hanoi in the evening of Christmas eve. On the way from the airport I saw Santa Clause TWICE. On motorbikes.

When I arrived at the hotel, Simone and Cat were waiting for me (they’ve arrived from Aceh earlier in the evening) and without unnecessary delay we headed out for Pho.

hanoi-noodles

mmmmm pho

After dinner we wandered the streets a bit and bought balloons.

hanoi-balloons-2

I bought a Santa balloon

Eventually we landed in a bar called the Loo Pub, which had converted toilets as bar stools. Towards the end of the evening the DJ played a very funny and danceable version of Jingle Bells and the crowd got pretty excited.

hanoi-smokey-bar

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells!

The smoke machine went into overdrive though and we were driven out into the very crisp fresh air to take a breath. And met this extremely CUTE little girl!

hanoi-cutest-kid

Hanoi's cutest kid

She was on the run from parental supervision but eventually the olds caught up with her and she had to go home. Stupid no fun parents.

Once the smoke lifted and we regained our composure after the Jingle Bells dance-off we decided to head back to our hotel. Sarah was, as usual, sleeeeeepy (it was well past 10pm I’ll have you know).

But when we got back to the hotel, one of the staff told us we simply had to get down to the lake. Vietnam had played Thailand in a soccer match that night…and WON! So clearly every person in Hanoi took to the streets.

hanoi-soccer-celbrations

The leader of the pack?

It was crazy at the lake. Thousands of people driving around in circles and cheering and chanting and flag waving. I made a friend who gave me a small Vietnamese flag and a flashing neon Jesus on the Cross to hang around my neck. Best friends for life. Jesus stopped flashing sometime last week. He had incredible stamina.

hanoi-soccer-celebrations-bikes

brum brum

hanoi-soccer-celebrations-lantern

Lighting a lantern

Spoiler for tomorrow’s post: When we met Nicole for Christmas lunch the following day she said she’d been down there around 10pm (four hours before we made it there and the crowd was still going strong at 2am). She had a great time too, until she realised someone had SLASHED HER BAG! The gigantic butt face stole her wallet AND her favourite lipstick which is just about the worst Christmas present you could give a gal. Way worse than a flashing Jesus on the Cross.