Wednesday, October 8, 2014

With Katie and Jordan in Hà Nội


It's hard to believe how quickly today has come around!!  After having breakfast with Tuyền, I spent the morning rearranging my room, skyping, Facebooking, blogging....and at 2pm I caught a bus to Hà Nội, then a xe ôm to the Little Hanoi Diamond Hotel, where I am always greeted like an old friend.

I settled in and walked across the road for some bun for dinner and at 7:30pm Dũng organised a car to take me to the airport to pick up Katie and Jordie. Their flight was due to arrive at 8:30. On the way I asked the driver how much it would cost to take us from Hà Nội to Hải Phòng and he said 1.4 million dong...about $70.  That's what I paid for a taxi when I arrived, and this car was much more comfortable, so after a phone conversation with someone who speaks English (the driver doesn't...) I booked the car to drive us 'home' from Will's place on Sunday afternoon.  Sweet!

The plane was late, so it was about 9:10pm when I finally saw Katie and Jordan through the glass doors, then it too ages for their bags to come through, but finally we were re-united!!!

So great to have them both here! They had been travelling for 21 hours, having flown Brisbane, Melbourne, Hồ Chí Minh City, to Hà Nội after a 4am start, so they were pretty exhausted! Jordie was asleep as soon as we got into the car.  By the time we'd all showered and hopped into bed they had been on the go for 23 hours...marathon effort!


So today began gently, with an omelette for breakfast downstairs, then we hit the streets of Hà Nội to show Jordie around. It wasn't long before the shopping began.... 

We bought a couple of for me and one for Jordan... Katie couldn't decide which one she liked best.

Once more, I walked through the silk embroidery shop..... one day I will buy one of these exquisite works of art...

Gifts, bags, fans and I found this gorgeous hat... and it fits me!

After lots of shopping, we made it to the Lake for morning tea

Then we walked back to the hotel for a rest, a lot of walking for Jordie and she was still over-tired from the long flight. It was lunch time, so I offered to go and get some bánh khúc and bring it back for the girls while they rested....and off I went, only to walk round and round several blocks without finding it!  For some reason I had it in my head that it was in one of the side streets off Câu Gố...not on Câu Gố itself....duh. So after about an hour I trudged back to the hotel empty handed!  Disappointment all around. Jordie was writing her blog and Katie was busy on Facebook, so we ate some of the fruit I brought with me from Hải Phòng and mid afternoon we headed out again. This time Katie led us straight to the shop...right where it always was. Haha.

So now Jordie also knows how delicious bánh khúc tastes, too!

A bit more shopping, and we ended up in the street where Tandor (our favourite Indian Restaurant) is and there in his usual spot was our little deaf and dumb mate. He came running out to greet us and was delightfully excited to see us again and to meet Jordan. Of course, I bought some of his cards, and we took some photos and exchanged facebook addresses.
His name is Thanh
Then we walked to the lake and had a look at Ngọc Son Temple (Đền Ngọc Sơn), or Temple of the Jade Mound and the huge golden turtle, located on a small islet at Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The temple was founded in the 14th century but most of its current structures were built in the 18th century. Ngọc Son Temple was built to commemorate a few Chinese and Vietnamese legends, including famous Vietnamese General Trần Hưng Đạo who twice led the Vietnamese troops to fend off the mighty Yuan invaders in the 13th century, using a magical Sword given to him by a giant turtle.  It’s a small temple set in a serene environment… 

By then it was only 5pm here, but 9pm Coffs Harbour time and Jordie was fading fast, so we went straight back to the hotel for a nap before dinner with Will.

Will met us here at 7pm and we jumped in a taxi and went to chicken street for another feast of delicious chicken from the lady he calls Chicken Mumma. 

So delightful...Will is one of the most loveable people I know and of course he is one of Katie's favourite people in the world too! We will have a fabulous holiday with him in Hội An!


A good night's sleep and the girls were ready to go again...but we were in no rush. A leisurely breakfast and we were off walking again. 

I have never seen so many beautiful flowers around Hoàn Kiếm Lake as there are this year....just beautiful.
When we got to this display we realised that they were celebrating the 60th anniversary of their independence from the yoke of French colonialism.

We fully intended to walk round the Lake and visit the Women's Museum as well, but dawdling along, a bit more shopping, and it was soon obvious we wouldn't fit that in and be ready to check out of our room by 12.  So we kept strolling around the lake and were absolutely delighted to see lots of tiny children out on an excursion...

This absolutely captivating older lady was leading the children in an energetic, joyful dance and it was delightful to watch...they even did the chicken dance  Haha!!

A bit further round, we stopped for a breather and I bought some pineapple from a little old lady


More photos along the way back...I love Hà Nội.. it is so picturesque!


We got back in time to pack our bags and all our shopping and check out of our room by 12. We stowed our luggage and walked back to Tandor for Katie wanted Jordan to enjoy their food too, 

but by then poor little Jordie was so tired she wasn't even hungry. She desperately needed to sleep, so I phoned Dũng at Little Hanoi Diamond and explained the situation and asked if they had a bed she could lie on for a couple of hours. Bless his heart...they were fully booked, but had some guests arriving later, so we were given a room so Jordie could sleep...and sleep she did till 4pm when we had to vacate it. Talk about a life-saver!  All they asked of us was that we didn't use the bathroom, but rather use the toilet downstairs so it didn't have to be cleaned again.
This is Dũng - our rescuer...and one of the main reasons I keep coming back to Little Hanoi Diamond Hotel.

We chilled in the reception area for half an hour then Will called to ask if we could come earlier than arranged because our flight was leaving at 6:50, not 8pm!  No problem... Dũng called us a taxi and away we went.  When we got to Will's place he was waiting for us with another larger taxi ready to take us all on to the airport. Katie and Will took the big bags back to his place for safe-keeping, and Pete MacGrath joined us, and we were off again! 

On the way to the airport we picked up two more friends of theirs - also teachers from their school - Tierna and Paul (from Ireland and Liverpool). Will was fretting because he'd realised he left his wallet on his desk in the staff room at school, and with no time to go back for it, he was trying to contact someone who might still be there. Eventually he got onto someone, but then they had to organise a key...  I offered to pray about it and he was happy to accept my offer. When we got to the airport and were waiting for our flight I reassured Will it was OK because when I prayed in tongues it was a relaxed language...which opened the door to a conversation about and demonstration of the gift of tongues and the amazing different prayer languages for each person.

To Will's enormous relief, he got a call just as we were in the plane waiting to take off to say his friend had found the wallet intact and it was safe and sound. That was a blessing, for it would have been very hard for him to relax not knowing whether his holiday money was safe.

We flew with Vietjet Airlines to Da plane, no hour flight... and by 8:30 we were in another taxi and on our way to Hội An.  We're staying at the MUCA Hội An Boutique Resort and it's just gorgeous.  Another of the boys' friends, Jaclyn (from LA) was already Katie went out to grab a bite to eat and a drink with them, while Jordie and I stayed in for a relatively early night  (10:30 pm!!!)

Our room has the biggest bed we've ever seen!!!

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