Hustle in HANOI: Catching the Dream

Hanoi, May 12th 2010 

Seventh destination: Hanoi Opera House. Yayyy!! I'm so happy at last I got to take a night shot of Hanoi Opera House as I had intended to on my first trip to Vietnam but missed the chance.

I like it that I got the shot while the flag was blown straight and a glimpse of the golden star in the middle could be seen.
In September when I come again, I wish I would be able to get an afternoon shot of Hanoi Opera House while the golden sun is shining on it.

Eighth destination: Al Fresco's Restaurant, another unaccomplished dream on my previous first trip to Vietnam. I pointed to the address on Insight Guide: Vietnam to me Mr. Duan and once again, Al Fresco's restaurant
turned out to be at the end of the other street of Hai Ba Trung.

Insight Guide: Vietnam put 2 $ signs behind Al Fresco as a sign of the rate. One $ sign means it's very low cost and four $ signs means it's very high cost. So, considering that Al Fresco is rated only with 2 $ signs, I put it into the list of my desired places to dine. To my surprise, the menu in front of me showed a long row of digits for each item. Meaning, no meal cost less than 100.000 dongs. I couldn't believe my eyes. I went for the cheapest stuff which I thought would be enough to fill my stomach: pizza with cheese plus ice tea. It cost me 125.000 dongs! 

The pizza itself wasn't bad, but not as good as the mozzarella pizza in Nam Bo Restaurant in Can Tho which I've written about in my previous article here. I checked my notes during that second trip to Vietnam. I had jotted down 125.000 dongs for a dish of mozzarella pizza and a cup of kahlua ice cream.Well, you might tell me that Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. Okay, I know. I live in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, anyway.

While I was waiting for my pizza to come, a waiter came with a glass of hot tea. "I ordered for ice tea," I said to him.

The waiter did not insisted. He smiled, politely said okay, and went away with the glass of hot tea.

In my mind I said, "I'm paying quite a lot and still you aren't giving me ice for my tea??"

A few minutes later the waitress who previously had taken my order came. She asked, "Do you want your tea cold or hot?"

Arghhh. This is making me hot -- inside. "I said 'ice tea' just now."

"So you want it cold?" she asked again.

"Yes. Cold ice tea, please." I replied. "Cold tea with ice."

The thing I was happy about in this restaurant was that I spotted an electric power socket just next to my table. I switched off my mobile phone and plugged the cord into the wall. I thought that if I have it charged while switched off, I would get the battery full quicker. But after I had finished the whole pan of pizza for myself and while imagining Nam Bo Restaurant, only one bar of battery indicator was added on my mobile phone's screen. Well... hopefully that will be enough for me for playing with my mobile phone on the train. 125.000 dongs without ice cream but with a little electricity power for free, that's fair.

Oh ya, the ladies' toilet in Al Fresco's was also pretty clean. That's another thing I didn't get in Nam Bo. Not that the toilet was dirty there, but I just didn't use toilet there. I was glad for the toilet in Al Fresco's as I would be on the train the whole night long till morning. It turned out also that the toilet in my train that night wasn't so pleasing. I noticed that when I got on the train. Moreover, toilets in a train used to be very tiny. It would be inconvenient to use it while carrying my camera backpack. But leaving it on the seat unattended would take me to the toilet with worries for sure. I'm often more worried about my camera than about myself. So... at the end, 125.000 dongs in Al Fresco's was quite worthwhile. A toilet might seem unimportant. But, when you are in bad need for it and you don't have it, that can be a tragedy. At such a time, even if you have 125.000 dongs in your hand, it might do nothing.

When I went to the toilet which was on the 3rd floor, I noticed that all the 3 floors of Al Fresco's was crowded. So, what I had chosen turned out to be people's choice after all.

Getting refreshed, I went downstairs and Mr. Duan was already waiting in front of Al Fresco's. I told him to go to the station and started to repack my stuffs such as the cups of yogurt, bread, bottle of mineral water, etc. I don't like walking with many things in my hand. But before I could manage the spaces in my travel bag, Mr. Duan already stopped the car. There it is, Hanoi Station. It turned out that choosing Al Fresco's for dinner was another brilliant idea I didn't realize. Al Fresco was just right on the way to the station. Well done, Shuni :P

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