Sunday, June 20, 2010

Next Stop Hue

Here are Angel, Mom and Dad at breakfast at our hotel in Hue. It was a nice change from our hotel in Hanoi.

Last Morning in Hanoi

More guavas! After this purchase, we rushed back to the hotel where everyone was waiting for us to go to the airport. Our cab driver parked illegally while loading the car and refused to give the army officer his papers when requested, so the officer jerked him around and marched him to the police station. We scrambled into another cab and barely made it to the airport on time!

Hanoi 7: Dinner

In the basement of a big apartment building after a long drive to the suburbs.  Andrew's "Where are we?" look.

All the shoes by the front door.

Mom and Dad in the seats of honor.  Notice Mom's cute haircut.  See more pics of the food at the end of this post.  For a non-adventurous eater like me, this was a very long night.

Every time this woman's cell phone rang, everyone laughed at whatever she said.

The hostess has a restaurant.

More guests.

The fried rice was delicious.

Hanoi 6: The Hair People

Sarah, one of the church members, wanted to do Mom's, Angel's and my hair, so we spent an afternoon in her salon.  Andrew was sad that he had to come along (we were going to dinner with other church members right after), but he brought his phrase book and practiced Vietnamese on the pastor. 

Here are three of Sarah's assistants.

Having my hair straightened before Sarah cut it.

Sarah and me.  Can you believe she's 52?

They did Angel's hair just the way she likes it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hanoi 5: The Shoe Guy

This enterprising guy noticed that Andrew's gym shoe was torn and offered to sew it. Unfortunately, we didn't negotiate the price before he began. Whenever I'd ask the price, he'd answer in Vietnamese, "It won't be too expensive."

Not only did he sew the tear, but he scrubbed the exterior, added new laces, and inserted scented insoles. When he finished and we asked the price again, he said, "250,000 dong." He and I both laughed at that number. We finally settled on 150,000 dong, which is around $8. I don't think he had to work the rest of that day!

Hanoi 4: Scenery

Hanoi 3: The Train Station

After figuring out that Window 2 was not designated for English speakers (contrary to what The Lonely Planet said) and that we needed to take a number and wait our turn, we found out that the overnight sleeper cars to Hue were sold out.

Here's Andrew asking a travel agent for options over the phone.

One option was to take this $13 "sleeper bus" overnight for 14 hours (this picture is from a poster in the travel agent's office across the street from the train station).  We opted to fly to Hue the next day for $74 each.  It was worth it. Another tourist later told us about the bossy Vietnamese grandmother who wouldn't let them turn out the light in their sleeper car, so it looks like the flight was especially worth it.

Hanoi 2: The Hotel

This hotel isn't even listed in TripAdvisor. I would have liked to stay another night in Hanoi when we couldn't get a sleeper car on the train to Hue as originally planned, but Dad didn't want to spend another night in this hotel!  Hopefully Angel will write about her "exciting" experiences with her room.  We stopped handing our keys in at the front desk when we went out because that was their cue to turn off the electricity in our room!

Andrew realizing the limits of his cheapness.  This room cost $15/night.

Our only window looked onto an internal staircase.

Andrew's favorite feature:  the undivided bathroom.

Hanoi 1

I wrote this on our trip and then lost it.  I've found it again, so I'm posting it now.

We're having so many adventures I can't even keep up, so I'm fast forwarding to our trip to Hanoi yesterday afternoon (May 31). On our way to the airport, Dad asked Mom to doublecheck the dates on our tickets. It turns out we were scheduled to depart June 1, not May 31. So the picture below is of us in front of the airport waiting to find out if we could leave yesterday instead. I think Dad played the age card for sympathy because they got all five of us on the flight.  (We were parked in front of the airport for a long time--you'd never be allowed to do this in the States.)

A house church pastor and 11 of his members met us at the airport.
The two little girls adored Angel and played with her hair in van.

All 17 of us fit into the van. We dropped people off along the way. We also encountered the most amazingly congested intersection I've ever seen. I'll post a video of it in the next post [as soon as I find it again].

Now we're at our hotel. Of the 3 hotels we've stayed at so far, this ranks third, but the church found it for us and as Dad put it, of the 3 hotels we've stayed at so far, this ranks the cheapest. Andrew is discovering that he might not be so cheap after all. It's in the middle of the Old Quarter, though, which is perfect for getting around and seeing everything.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dalat IV: Dreams Hotel

This hotel ranks #1 on TripAdvisor, and we could see why.  I need to add my review to that site.  The owner was super attentive, and we had every possible fruit in front of us at breakfast.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dalat III: The Dalat Palace

This was our birthday gift to Mom and Dad, and a celebration of Angel's straight A report card.  We were the only party in the dining room during our 3 hour dinner on May 30.

Dalat II: Pictures of the Market

Dalat I

Arriving in Dalat late afternoon on May 29

Andrew pushing our luggage cart and singing, "Swing Low."

The view from the top floor of the Dreams Hotel, where our room was. It cost $20 a night. The room in Saigon cost $16 a night.

The small painting we bought for $40. The artist who painted it, Nguyen Ming Dhong, is below with Andrew.