A Day with Phuong & Hoang

Ha Noi, September 12th 2010

It was a great time with our two Vietnamese friends, Phuong and Huong. They kindly, cheerfully, volunteered to be our guide. One of them, in turns, joint us in our rented car from The Sinh Tourist and the other rode on their motorbike. They became our interpreter to our not-so-kind-driver. (The worst driver I ever had in Vietnam.)

After finishing the check out procedure in Paloma Hotel, we headed to Bobby Chinn's restaurant which was just nearby. If you need more reference, you can zoom go to my map here.

Our reserved table at Bobby Chinn. Although the website says it's under construction, when I filled in the form to reserve a table, I got an immediate reply. So was it when I revised my reservation by requesting another seat because Phuong was comming. I got an immediate confirmation to my request.
(My mistake with this photo: I did not calculate the aperture correctly.)

The interior of Bobby Chinn Restaurant was fabulous. Artistic and romantic.

We all ordered a full course menu. But the most thing I adored was the dessert. Since I was a kid I always looked forward to desserts during meals.

Nguyen Phuong, our guest of honor.
She brought her friend, Hoang.
I hope we'll stay in touch and be good friends always.

Next was Cot Co Tower Flag also known as Hanoi Citadel. After taking pictures there, we went to Old Quarter to buy souvenirs. I took my friends directly to Ms. Thang's shop on Dinh Liet Street, because last year when I went with Tia, this shop was the one with variety of items and most important, the owner could speak English very well.

My friends took pictures around Hoan Kiem Lake also. I actually wanted to take my friends to the other side of West Lake (Ho Tay) to enjoy authentic Vietnamese snack. I myself wanted to go there for the sake of shooting sunset on West Lake. But unfortunately I wrote the wrong street name on my itinerary when I booked this car from The Sinh Tourist. Through Hoang I tried to explain that it was mistyped and asked our driver to take us to Thanh Nien Street.

The driver wore on a sour face and refused harshly. I was very upset with him. Come on, it's still in the city of Hanoi anyway! I've already rented cars in Vietnam several times, but this is the first time I experience a driver that refuses to go to a place, no matter close it is, just because I wrote a different street address on my email order. When you rent cars, do you actually have to write in detail all the places you want to go to?? Most people will just mention  the time and the area e.g. inside Hanoi City, and then decide the places on the spot. Now that I try to give a rough image of the places I'm going to visit, I cannot ask the driver to go to another place. Pfff!

I called The Sinh Tourist Office in Saigon. After a difficult conversation in English, I was told to call their office in Hanoi. No one picked up the phone in Hanoi. I complaint through email once and through their website once, but The Sinh Tourist has never responded to my complaint up to now.

When we reached Hanoi Opera House, I wasn't interested to take pictures at all. I was terribly upset. I just sat on the stairs contacting The Sinh Tourist's Office in vain.

Next, Alfresco Restaurant. We bought 2 large sizes of pizza for dinner in the train. While I waited for our order to be served, my friends eventually found a place to enjoy Vietnamese authentic snack on mini short stools. Although it's not facing the lake as I had in mind, it was, authentic. Good.

Alfresco was very crowded that time and our order took very long. Still upset with the driver, sitting there alone made me restless. I managed to tell the hostess that I'm going out and will be back to pick up my order.

Yogen Fruz. No matter how much money I have, it usually never occurs to me to spend the money for food like this. Although I adore dessert, to buy one for myself is something not worthwhile. I would do it only if I'm with a group of people, for the sake of fellowship.

But this time I needed something to cool me down. 
Macha yogurt with lychees.

We took Livitrans Train from Ha Noi to Lao Cai. It had been our best train in our whole journey. Nevertheless, the most expensive train. Note that we purchased soft berths!

 The red line was for Saigon - Nha Trang.
The purple line was for Nha Trang - Ha Noi.
And now, the green line is our next destination: Ha Noi - Lao Cai & Hekou.

Lao Cai and Hekou are the cities on the border of Vietnam and China. Lao Cai is in Vietnam territory and Hekou is in China territory.

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