Hanoi on the Weekend


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!"

“Get off the showcase!” Bonus points to whoever can identify who said that.

We decided on a different vendor.

For some reason, we decided on a different vendor.

This guy reminded me of the lobsters in the bathtub!

This guy reminded me of the lobsters in the bathtub!

Didn't we pick these off rocks?

Didn’t we pick these off rocks?

What would the Massachusetts term for these guys be?

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 important Vietnamese  phrases.

Our teacher had excellent English. In addition to cooking, he taught us the Vietnamese equivalents for “cheers” and “bottoms up”.

If cooking gets too strenuous, I'm coming back here!

If cooking (or drinking) gets too strenuous, I’m coming back here!

Miss Shelley and Miss Sally,  who both answer to Ms Shally

Miss Shelley and Miss Sally, super chefs

Our waiter was happy to keep us supplied with free flowing wine

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.

Beautiful scenery; quite a bit of traffic on the river.

A Vietnamese Starbucks

A Vietnamese Starbucks

I thought there were a lot of boats on the river; I had NO IDEA how many boats were already there!

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.

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.  As it got more crowded, it was impossible to photograph.

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

One of the lunch options

There's a lot to be said for vegetarianism.

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.
image
You jump into and out of these.  They don't stop for passenger entry and exit.

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.
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Sally and Jeannie, smiling on the boat ride back.

Sally and Jeannie, smiling on the boat ride back. You can’t keep those intrepid travelers down!

9 thoughts on “Hanoi on the Weekend

  1. Shelley, these posts are wonderful and your photos are beautiful. What is your volunteer job description? I’m fascinated!
    PS – Thinking maybe Turkey next spring. 🙂

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      • So sorry to hear you’re not well. You have done amazingly well avoiding little bugs til now! I’d love to chat when you’re up to it! I have a meeting in Paris in early April – SOMEONE has to go 🙂 – so am leaving for two weeks in France on March 30th.

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  2. Ok so I googled get off the showcase – and you destination.now was one of the choices. I have no idea except for the price is wright, however, you are asking this question when it comes to cooking so was it on one of the cooking shows??? Julia,

    That poor animal – looked like he was necking.

    Lis

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