A Travellerspoint blog

Temple of literature and Hanoi Hilton

Another busy Saturday sightseeing

Had a full day sightseeing. Since I'm working long hours during the week I try to pack in seeing as much as I can on the weekends. After grocery shopping went to the Temple of Literature. It is the oldest place of learning in Vietnam and covers a huge city block. It is full of beautiful temples and gardens. It was packed with people when I arrived, there had been a school graduation, appeared to be high school. There were lots of local families with the graduates, the girls were all dressed in traditional beautiful long dresses.

They also were having a huge book fair on the grounds. I spent a long time wandering around looking at the books. I bought a few coloring books for my 3 year old grandson, figuring that would be something different. Spent a couple hours just walking the grounds, people watching, listening to some traditional music.

Then headed to store Craftlinks to do some shopping but they were closed for noon nap time. So grabbed some lunch on street, Bun Cho and a spring roll and mango smoothe . It was very good. I am enjoying the food. Did some shopping and then walked to the Hanoi Hilton prison.

Only part of the prison is still standing, the rest has been turned down for development. Paid my$1 admission fee. By the way all museums/attractions seem to cost a $1. Most of the prison is devoted to the imprisonment of Vietnamese by French colonists in early 1900's.

Only a small part is about the war and US prisoners. It was about what I was expecting. Full of propaganda on how well the prisoners were tested and what a great experience they had in prison.

Then went back and spent some time at the pool before heading to old quarter for dinner. Went to dragon rising restaurant which was on rooftop terrace overlooking the city. Great view, atmosphere and food. Fanciest meal in 2 weeks and most expensive, cost 21.00 used and that includent a mix drink, salad, dinner and desert.

Then walked around old quarter. Saturday night is more hectic than normal if that is even possible. It started sprinkling so stopped at legends beer overlooking the main area of old quarter. It was a great spot to rest and do people watching.

Returned home at 10 pm after a full day. However I did book some spa treatments for Sunday at the hotel where we had dinner. Will share that later.

Posted by mboggs 09:49 Comments (0)

Grocery Shopping

Went grocery shopping for the 2nd time at metro,which is a huge grocery store. Our apartment building runs a free shuttle there and the driver waits for an hour for us. Since we had been last week I had a better idea of wear food was in the store. However it is still challenging trying to read labels not in English and find food for lunches.

I enjoyed wandering the aisles looking at the different products and trying to figure out what some of it is. My main goal was to buy some tuna fish to take for lunch during the week since I usually don't have time to go out for lunch. I found the tuna at 2.50 per can but bought 4 cans-this costs more than anything else I bought. Decided to buy a can of seaweed flavored Pringles- haven't worked up nerve to taste them yet.

It is interesting to see the brands and different types of products. I went looking for some body lotion and found some plain Vaseline aloe lotion. However the majority of the lotion was brands that had whitening ingredients in them, promising to lighten your skin in 2 weeks. Apparently light skin that isn't suntanned is preferred here thus the purpose of this lotion.

I gave up on oatmeal -doesn't exist. $30 later I was home with tuna, low fat pudding, 12 pack of Pepsi light (diet Pepsi), seaweed Pringles, lotion, cheese and crackers. Should last me 2 weeks.

Posted by mboggs 09:38 Comments (0)

Ho Chi Minh

Sightseeing in Hanoi

After our grocery store trip this morning we spent the rest of the day sightseeing. We decided to go to area where Ho Chi Minh monuments were located. Went to the Ho Chi Minh museum but by the time we got there it was closed for 2 hour for lunch time nap time.

So we decided to find the b52 memorial or as they call it the victory monument. Guess it all depends on the view you are looking at history from. Recently on the amazing race the contestants had a pit stop there. Well I will never yell at the contestants on the show about how they are missing stops right in front of their eyes. We walked around for over an hour trying to find it. Finally stopped at a fruit smoothe place and got pineapple smoothe- yum yum. The owner was a young girl and the store had just opened a week ago , we asked for directions and she volunteered to take us there. It was a few blocks away and we had actually walked right past it and hadn't realized it. Boy did we feel stupid.

Also stopped and ate at a street vendor. We sat on the tiny little plastic chairs and they served us mystery food on the little plastic table. These chairs are made for tiny Asian bodies not WEstern fat butts. This was first time we didn't care much for the food and we've been eating all local. We can at least say we tried it. Think we will stick to pork sandwich and pho street food in future.

Went back to the Ho Chi Minh museum which is located on huge piece of land. No cars or scooters allowed int he area and it was so beautiful and quiet. The only place in the city that is quiet. The landscaping was beautiful. Museum was interesting. Admission was $1.25. All the signs in museum had English translations. Interesting reading about the US Imperialist aggression. Definately a different point of view of history but it makes sense that from their point of view.

Then went by the mausoleum but it was closed in afternoon so we didn't get to see his body. We'll come back another day to see it. Wandered around the presidential palace grounds, where they has stilt house where Ho Chi Minh lived etc. lots of tourist in area but mainly Asian or Australian. Very few Americans.

After an afternoon of non stop walking grabbed cab back to apt. We shortly realized that we were getting ripped off on the meter. Since we take a cab to work each day we now have a good idea of cost of taxis. We had driver pull over and paid him $ 8 and walked the rest of the way home. Taxi ride should have been $3.

Decided that we needed a break from Asian food and went to Pizza Hut for dinner. It was wonderful supreme pizza. Very different pizza choices that I don't think are on the normal USA menu.

Since we are going to be here so long and have multiple trips it is nice to have the time to just wander the streets and back alleys of Hanoi. We are getting a good idea of how people live their daily lives. Have felt very safe wandering around and everyone is very nice. It is amazing how we are learning to communicate, manage money etc without speaking the language.

Posted by mboggs 05:54 Tagged chi ho minh Comments (0)

Grocery shopping

Navigating a foreign supermarket

After a busy week at work the weekend finally arrived and we decided to first do grocery shopping. The apt building runs a shuttle to a big supermarket called Metro. They take us and then wait and hour. Wanted to pick up some food for breakfast and lunch. Huge store which had both food and household items. Wandered the isles trying to figure out what was kind of food it was. No English labels at all except in the cereal aisle, wanted oatmeal but it must not be an Asian food so got Special K. Figured out the milk and got some low fat, decided to skip the sweet milk. Got a couple cans of tuna, lite mayo, some fruit, frozen shrimp and beans and a 6 pack of Pepsi lite (as diet Pepsi is called). You have no idea how hard it is to find diet soda. Spent $30 which is more than I spent on eating out all week but now I have some alternatives for lunch and don't have to go scrounging for food.

I was good and didn't by any snack food, skipped the Pringles with seaweed flavor. Don't think we have that flavor in the USA.

This was actually very interesting experience.

Posted by mboggs 05:39 Tagged in shopping hanoi grocery Comments (0)

Eating in Hanoi

Local food

This entry is all about food and eating local food. Breakfast is included with our furnished apartment. It is provided at a local cafe. Silly me thought there would be a big selection of western food. Instead it is a limited local menu. We have our choice of checking soup or beef and noodles or fried egg or bread. The food is delicious but not what I consider breakfast food. However I've been eating the beef and noodles with vegetables and it is delicious.

Lunch has been more challenging since we are in an office and their aren't many choices around us. First day I ate at the office cafeteria. For $1 you purchase a ticket in advance. You show up and they give you a plate with that days meal. We lucked out and had pork with noodles. It was fine but we haven't tried it again since I was told some of the choices have been fish heads and I draw the line there. Yesterday we went to the food court at Parktons dept store. It was like a food court in a mall but it was all Asian choices, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese. Nothing it English but they had pictures of the choices. I had a deep fried shrimp and found my first Pepsi light. Cost was about $2.50.

Dinners have been at cafes near the Hanoi hotel area. The streets are lined with local cafes. We are slowly working our way through each of them. Mainly been having beef with vegetables and noodles or chicken legs with noodles. We are never quite sure what we are getting but it has all been good. Cost is usually $5 for dinner including a beer.

Tonight we just found a pho stand on a sidewalk. They had the pots cooking a picnic tables set up outside. It was best pho we've had. The chicken in it was fresh and moist. Had a large beer with it. Total cost was $2. We,ve been spending at most $8 a day on meals.

Saturday I am planning on going to the grocery store. Hoping to get some oatmeal so I have alternatives for breakfast. Will post pictures of our pho stand from tonight.

Posted by mboggs 06:11 Comments (0)

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