Saturday, January 9, 2010

Now to the North

Date: Saturday, January 9, 2010
Travel: Rental Van
Party: Vu & Family, Linda
Lodging: Hanoi Capital Hotel
Photos: 20100109 Hanoi

In the morning, the rest of my family goes out to the city and visits some of the attraction, such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where you can see the man preserved. I, however, went out to the airport to pick up my girlfriend, Linda, who flew overnight from Jakarta. She had only a few days off from work, and it would be a good chance to meet everyone. We meet up later at a restaurant near Ho Tay (Western Lake) and she would get to meet my family for the first time. Fortunately, Linda is able to enjoy every type of food, and thus was able to enjoy Vietnamese food, even the exotic stuff.

One of the nicer things about this part of the trip, is that my nieces had some other girls that they could be entertained by other than their mother. My female cousin, nicknamed Thi, and Linda were able to give Stella a break. We spent the next part of the day at the Phu Tay Ho temple. Outside the temple was some kind of snails for sell sitting in tubs. I think that after a week of nobody getting sick, we felt confident about eating more liberally. This would eventually bite us a few days later. We visited some other sites in town, like Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), even though the traffic during the day was bad. Motorcyclist were everywhere, but there were a lot of number of automobiles now, which make the congestion on the tiny roads even worse. Dangling on top of the poles are the spaghetti bunched wires for electricity. The infrastucture is bad, and it's difficult to see how the city can sustain a healthy growth.

In the evening, we ate at the well advertised Quan An Ngon, ( I think literally meaning good tasting restaurant ). It has a wide array of Vietnamese food, where you can watch food be cooked over a dozen stations. Unfortunately our party was large and we had to sit at the 2nd story, where we had to order food from the menu rather than just pointing. After a delicious dinner, we walk around town near ho giom, the temple, and the fun weekend night flea market.

Most of the hotels in the city have been retrofitted, and its usually done half ass. Typcially a bathroom is one floor, and you would have a nozzle to shower, a drain, and a squatting toilet. There was no tub, you would just shower and the water would just get all over the floor which would drain in one corner of the bathroom. So walking in to bathrooms of any home, even if it was to just use the toilet or wash your hands, the floor would be wet. Well the squatting toilets in the hotel would be replaced by wester toilets, and a bath tub would be installed. In the Hanoi hotel we stayed at, there was a bathtub, but it had no shower curtains for a stand up shower. So I would squat in the tub to prevent the whole floor from getting drenched. However, I noticed that the floor was still wet. I noticed a tiny PVC pipe coming out of the tub sticking about 1 inch, and water from the tub was actually being drained from the pipe, onto the floor, which would make its way to the corner drain. They never even connected the plumbing, but instead just let the water flow out of the tub into floor and into the drain.

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