Hot Hot Heat

Hanoi is oppressively hot not than anyone around here seems to care or notice. The high temps have been in the upper 90's and the real feel has been 110 and higher. It hasn't necessarily stopped us from doing things but it has made doing things quite exhausting. On our first day we had signed up for a free walking tour unbeknownst to what that was going to be. A young college student picked us up on foot at our hotel and essentially asked us we want to do for the next three hours. She was very nice but it was also extremely awkward walking around just us two and her mostly in silence between short discussions on local folklore and small-talk questions about each other's lives. We visited a bunch of neat places we would never have bothered to see like a traditional Vietnamese house, a local temple from the early 1000's and a yogurt & fruit stand. The tour ended with us getting an egg coffee - a local delicacy that essentially tastes like a milkshake.

This first foray into the city was tough having come from Japan. I knew to expect traffic but didn't realize the cars and scooters use their horns more than turn signals. It's deafening in the small streets of the preserved center. There is also no order to traffic laws. Cars and motorbikes will go on either side of the street or the sidewalk when needed - actually there aren't really any sidewalks here they are just parking lots for the vehicles. Crossing the street, which most people tend to say is the hard part, isn't really so bad. I think it is comparable to New York except you just can't expect the cars to look like they are stopping. You just walk into traffic and everyone weaves around you.

The heat combined with the noise combined with the chaos is sometimes just hard to handle. Thankfully the saving grace is the food and its cost. Everything is ubiquitous, well done, and ultra-affordable. You can have two lunches for six dollars. Everything here is fresh. The vegetables, the fruits, the fish, the bread, the meat. It's all market to table same day kind of stuff and you always see them cooking in front of you. Moreover, they don't use much dairy here which is probably good given the heat (its so damn hot...milk was a bad choice).

We also visited the Vietnam Women Museum which was a great opportunity to understand the role women have play in the last few hundred years of Vietnamese history. The country seems to pride itself on equality of the sexes here - or at least in the ability for both to play any role.

Staying in the French Quarter was a great choice. Definitely fewer tourists given the hotel prices here are double or triple that of the old quarter (think $15 vs. $45). Also more trendy shops and boutiques. I got a replacement for my missing wallet from an "Italian leather" designer for $12. Unclear weather it is legitimate but at that price if it makes it home I will be happy.

Lastly, the currency here is valued as one of the worst in the world. Most items are priced in the tens of thousands or six figures. This has meant two things for me:
1. I'm thrilled to be a millionaire, but even more appealing is there are no coins in circulation. I hate carrying piles of coins around always trying to find an opportunity to use them.
2. The ATM only offered notes of 200,000 and most shops I've visited looked at me like some crazy person trying to break what is essentially worth $8.65. I've had it play out multiple times where I got a discount or offered to overpay because they couldn't make change for my big bills. I don't know what that's all about.

Tonight we are going out for pizza. So much for the no dairy thing. Look for those pics on the Instagram.

Local French Architecture

Bridge to the Temple of the Jade Mountain

Sweating Through the Old Quarter 
Cooling off with Cold Brew

How to Cross the Street

A Very Narrow Residence

Pasteur Street Brewing

Women's Museum - Traditional Outfit

Hanoi Opera House