Speaking of action, we saw trains of cyclos coming from
the fancy hotels across town. Six, ten, twelve at a time, all in a row with
foreigners sitting in them, and we were part of their tour! Here we are, drinking our local beer, having local appetizers, and
the tourists are gawking at US! It was like being in the zoo. What a
BILLY AT A LOCAL BIA HOI
The next morning, it was time to explore our surroundings. The first “bad
weather” of our Vietnam trip, the overcast gray skies were a nice break from hot and
humid, and the mist gave a certain “ancient” feel to everything we saw.
Hanoi, supposedly the “most Asian City” in Vietnam, is not as modern as its
southern rival. Once outside the Old Quarter, the peaceful tree lined
boulevards, sidewalk cafes, and French architecture cannot go unnoticed;
perfect for strolling arm in arm with your lover. Hoan Kiem Lake serves this
purpose, as many folks come here to relax, sit on park benches with old friends, or walk to get exercise. The Lake serves as a large
and easy-to-recognize landmark with the streets all branching off from
there. Make it back to the lake, and instantly we know about where we are.
YOUNG LOVERS AT HOAN KIEM LAKE
Lunchtime approaches quickly each day, and
several times we decided to eat at a recommended place
called the Cyclo Café. Noted for its ambiance - all the seats are
transformed cyclos - the food is worth mentioning as well. We each had
the set lunch, at 50,000 dong ($3.33 USD), which is the best deal offered in
this unique midpriced restaurant. There are several selections for
this set price menu, which also includes coffee or tea. It must be mentioned
here that the Vietnamese coffee is some of the very
best. Whether enjoyed after a sumptuous meal, or at many of the local
cafes about the city, this flavorsome treat is not to be missed. We
recommend finding a neighborhood coffee bean vendor and buying a kilo of
your favorite coffee to take home or to your next destination. Well worth the reasonable price
charged of $6.67 US.
FRESH GRILLED TUNA ON A BED OF TOMATOES, ZUCCHINI, OLIVES
AND CRUSHED CAPERS
The streets here in the Old
Quarter are bewilderingly winding and it is easy enough to think you are on
one street when in actuality you want to be on the one above it or below it.
However, the street signs are very well marked and in large letters that can
actually be seen. The street names and features on the map we have even
matches the roads! The Vietnamese seem to be very organized, except
for the frenzied traffic, and even that is organized chaos.
CARRYING SUGAR CANE OVER THE LONG BIEN BRIDGE
In an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the vendor
filled streets, we hired two cyclo drivers to take us across the
Long Bien Bridge. Even though it looked like the bridge itself could fall down at any
moment, we risked it. Built in 1902, spanning 5500 feet across the Red
River, this bridge was continuously bombed during the Vietnam War.
Supporting several rail lines and two highways it was heavily fortified
and was an important target for the Americans. Yet the Vietnamese, with their
reputable persistence, never ceased to rebuild it, time and time again after the
bombings. The slow and peaceful 2 hour cyclo ride was a welcomed change from
the manic pace of crowded streets we left behind.
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After five days or so, we realized that we had hit upon
pattern of cool, drizzly, heavy skied days. Everything is damp,
through and through. This city holds great promise of beauty should
the sun come out. With the architecture being so influenced by the
French, the men wearing berets, the bicycles, baguettes, and brie, it is
very reminiscent of being in France.
We found ourselves wandering the
seeing the grand Opera House and museum buildings. We took our time
to reflect on our distinctive visit to Vietnam while sitting in cafes
TYPICAL STREET IN OLD QUARTER
The sun eventually did come out to create splendor and
shadow - even if it was only for moments at a time. Vietnam, with its
intense history, its quality of goods offered for sale, the beauty of the
countryside, and general all around variety at affordable prices is a
highly recommended vacation destination in our judgment. Do yourself
a favor and consider this newly opened country as a place for your next
AND TRAVEL INFORMATION
For more stories and photos
of Vietnam, click here
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are
recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of
finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their
they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991.
They wrote the popular books,
The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and
Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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