What do we fun loving volunteers do on a weekend in Hanoi? Well, on Saturday we took a cooking class, beginning with a visit to the local market to buy ingredients for our Caramel Pork dish.
“Get off the showcase!” Bonus points to whoever can identify who said that.
For some reason, we decided on a different vendor.
This guy reminded me of the lobsters in the bathtub!
Didn’t we pick these off rocks?
Slap a little paint on these shells, and you’ve got yourself an ashtray!
Our teacher had excellent English. In addition to cooking, he taught us the Vietnamese equivalents for “cheers” and “bottoms up”.
If cooking (or drinking) gets too strenuous, I’m coming back here!
Miss Shelley and Miss Sally, super chefs
Our waiter was happy to keep us supplied with the “free flowing wine” mentioned in the brochure.
On Sunday, Jeannie, Sally and I made a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda, which we subsequently learned is Vietnam’s Mecca. We had thought that a boat ride on the river, into the mountains, would be a respite from the energy and dynamism of Hanoi. And had we visited during the summer, that is exactly what we would have experienced. Instead, we figured that it would have been more peaceful had we stayed in Hanoi, because it sure seemed like everyone in the city decided to visit the Pagoda with us.
Beautiful scenery; quite a bit of traffic on the river.
A Vietnamese Starbucks
I thought there were a lot of boats on the river; I had NO IDEA how many boats were already there!
Vietnam has no shortage of shopping opportunities, and religious sites are no exception.
It is difficult to capture the sea of humanity at the Pagoda. I took this photo before it got crowded. Later, I couldn’t get my arms up to take a picture without bopping people around me.
One of the lunch options
There’s a lot to be said for vegetarianism.
After lunch, we headed for the gondola. It didn’t take long for us to realize we were the only non-Asians in the very long line. During the one hour wait, the children used the opportunity to practice their English. Everyone wanted to say “hello” to us. Once again, I was impressed with the warmth and friendliness of the Vietnamese.
You jump into and out of these. They don’t stop for passenger entry and exit. And if you take too long, the attendant gives you a little push to send you on your way.
A sweet young French girl who was on our tour decided to walk up, and arrived at the top before we did. (I wasn’t kidding about the long lines!) She reported that the way up was very hot and crowded, with gift and food stands lining the road the entire way. We know exactly what she meant. We SAW the rooftops during our gondola ride. So much for fresh mountain air.
Sally and Jeannie, smiling on the boat ride back. You can’t keep those intrepid travelers down!