Monday, 26 September 2011

More Hanoi

I found a good, nearby Vietnamese place to eat today; its Bun Bo Nam Bo in Hang Dieu. Its a million miles from posh but it has a long stainless steel table & an adult size wooden bench so its a big step up from a baby seat on the pavement.

Its a finger menu, which is simplicity itself - 1 finger = 1 bowl, 2 fingers = 2 bowls. You get what they're cooking right in front of you & its the meat (beef) option or vegetarian - noodles, meat, miscellaneous vegetables with a sprinkling of peanuts. An excellent, if out of the ordinary, breakfast for 50,000 dong (£1.50).

Street life is what I spend most of my time trying to dodge - so its best seen from a stationary position in a cafe, but well located, comfortable places are few & far between. There's a great cafe diagonally opposite my hotel with basket weave chairs & decent coffee (60p). Only locals seem to use it & it has a great view of the street chaos swirling around it.

A really noticable thing about Hanoi is that its a respectable city - in the sense that I've seen nothing unsavoury, or at least not on public display. There are no sex bars, dodgy geezers don't approach you with lewd suggestions & no girls accost you in the street. All inevitable in Thailand but even Beijing had its street walkers patrolling around the Business District hotels every evening.

I decided to go south to Hue today as the incessant Hanoi traffic is really bugging me. I'm taking the 19.00 train from the main station which arrives tomorrow at 08.00. The ticket cost £24 so is about the same price as another nights accommodation in Hanoi. The hotel ordered my ticket from an agent who delivered to my door for an additional £1.50 - what a time & hassle saving bargain that was.

My random choice of the Phung Hung hotel in Duong Thanh Str, Hanoi was a wonderful bit of fortune. Its got a 4 star lobby although the rooms are small 3 star quality, however the bathrooms are good, the balcony rooms are great, the WiFi is free & the staff are really nice & as helpful as any 5 star hotel concierge service. They also have a couple of computers in the lobby for guests to use. There are cheaper places to stay but I doubt there are better value hotels for $30 a night. It doesnt appear in any of the guide books nor doe it get picked up by hotel internet search engines & some of the Lonely Planet's suggested hostel dorm accommodation is dearer than this.

I'm currently sheltering from the first spot of rain (Tuesday 26th Sept) since St Petersburg but I've been reading about the serious flooding further south - along the Mekong Delta up to Phnom Penh - all on my pending itinerary!

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