Its 20 13 hrs here and 13.13hrs there, but all is well
5th Nov 2018
( Picture of Long Bien Bridge over the Red River, Hanoi)
So you are going to get reports at some funny hours UK time.
Arrived at Ha Noi airport, called No Bai at 09.30 local time and without trouble
passed through immigration check without a hitch.
Lots of officers on duty considering the Thai Airways at Bangkok
had laid on a Boeing 777 – 300 which was full.
The baggage carousel was swift and efficient with our luggage.
The No 86 bus is the European Type.
The centre for luggage and the seats elevated at the
front and back for passengers,and arrived within minutes
and quickly departed at breakneck speed for the capitol’s centre.
Its now 02.20am here and 19.23 at home
We paid 30,000 dong each for the 30 minutes ride but the tickets said 35,000 Dong.
And that friends is £1 instead of £1: 17p and that is Anti – inflationary Socialism.
Produce tickets for the higher amount and charge less – ridulously less for English fares. Heathrow to Leicester Square for £1 – IMPOSSIBLE !
Of course the bus is state owned and the conductor, who genuinely is looking after the passengers, tells the driver where to stop as we hit town and the traffic.
Let me say NOW that I saw Ha Noi from the air and it looked more prosperous than I imagined.
This was confirmed as we landed at the airport.
Very little advertising but small independents selling coffee etc.. and exchanging money and mobile sim cards and gifts
It wasn’t until we hit town that the effects of a bad market economy hit home.
Independents cannot be trusted to plan and regulate and I will say more on that later.
Only now to say the Communist Government here will need to raise standards.
However — For a Country ravished by war both civil and invaders the Government and people are doing very well thank you.
I have seen better places here than in County Durham’s mining towns today.
So much for effluent England
We arrived at the International Post Office a striking colonial style building gone tatty round the edges and outside independents mostly poor, looking to sell you something.
We were approached by he who sounds like CAC, a pleasant peasant boy and struggling as a Grabcab driver of a neat Toyota car taxi.
Too many and a lack of Unions organisation he agreed.
No meter, so he asked 100,000 dong and I insisted on 80,000.
Thats £3.33 and under £3 for a drive through the traffic to the Money changer.
Cac said its the same as the banks as we found out later but better than at the airport.
30,000 to the £1 instead of 29480.
So we changed the money we needed for the condotel – £249 for 15 nights for two with Booking .com
More on that later.
Cac knew the traffic side roads and inability to park for the motorcyles parked herringbone fashion outside the “independents” shops.
He continued on from the Money Changer to the Condo hotel, a posh clothes shop with apartments upstairs.
We went up in the lift to the sixth floor with two apartments on every floor.
Noisy in the day as it overlooked the road, but Mosquito free
You guessed correctly, owned independently by the Vietnam rich and in this case contradictory named “Ruby and Joyce”.
Ruby does all the cleaning work and Joyce is the Schooolgirl looking owner –
no doubt for her father with some ill-gotten gains who knew little because she was not experienced – yet.
At least they had SMS ed us to say they were at the place – No 43 Quan Thanh Road in the Quan Thanh District of Ba Dinh Area.
Very well situated for all Ha Noi.
The key card had to be scanned before the large quiet lift would operate and we met Ruby rushing round clearing our rooms of rubbish from the previous occupants.
She made a brave job of it but Rene found it necessary to “tidy” the sink area.
Though I must say the bed is a luxury, air con and fan, the bathroom perfect- walk in wet room and all mod cons toilet and sink etc..
The kitchen area adequate with an 2 electric plates than needed explaining before they would operate.
A large fridge freezer that had been switched off.
Which indicates the previous occupants left a while ago.
The Lounge was adequate but both TV did not work
Too much modern electrics for there own good.
The place was clean enough to live in and once we had bought on top of the rent the 19L plastic water bottle delivered to the door for 300,000 or £1 shows that Socialism here still has a poor working class, a “middle class” and an upper class.
Don’t drink tap water !
This High Street has a mix of expensive shops and “poor penny corner shops”
Banks were not lined with marble though.
Cafe Communities were everywhere with mostly men doing the lounging
and the women serving.
After unpacking and getting ourselves turned round and by that I mean “organised” the Radical and Rene set off armed with a shopping list and £10 wheely trolley brought in the suitcase which had difficulty standing up on its own when loaded.
We soon hit a meat shop – very posh – meat all in cold store or freezer and full of Australian Beef & Lamb and American packs of this and that.
We spent 785,000 dong ( £1 – 30,000) here on rib eye, french wine & unsalted butter called President which was 85,000 dong a pkt. the Wine at £7 a bottle.
From there we went round the corner and passed without finding the local Chau Long Market, so turned back down a side road, meeting other foreigners without shopping and another group later with a guide whom they had paid to show them what we had found out for nothing.
The market is a real peasants market under cover and crammed to the door with stalls selling live fish, just dead meat, veg or all asian kinds and fruit, not to mention eggs and tins and pkts of this and that.
We were in clover, as the expression goes.
Live king prawns and fresh water tilapia, vegetables and fruit and eggs still believing we were being over priced as foreigners but I take that back, as it all cost funny money.
The tilapia was under £2 for more than a kilo and the eggs less than £1 for 10.
Potatoes carrots cabbage cucumber ginger lemon grass limes papaya corn on the cob and garlic was all loaded up into the weely and off we set the rice shop for a kilo of Vietnams best at under £1.
The problem is the small money – no coins only notes and the lowest denomination 1000 dong which is 1.65 pence.
So 25000 dong is actually 83.34 pence but sounds like a fortune.
We will get our heads around it soon.
Guess what – I got back to the rooms with a bottle of wine and no cork screw.
Now where did I put that Swiss army knife with the thing for taking out stones from horses hoofs.
But no hoofs trotting the streets here.
Ha Noi has become cosmopolitan and we shall need to explore the countryside for “real” life.
Exploring Ha Noi will be difficult as the pavements are “occupied” if they exist.
We want to find the lakes today, and the Taoist temple.
The massive inland lake called Ho Tay or West Lake is the posh part of town but the smaller Truc Bach Lake now bridged by the road dividing the two and in the middle of this bridged road is the American war dead memorial.
As far away from civilisation as it could be yet “in the city”
The Temple is under 1 kilometre and Ho Chi Minh Mauseleum less than 2. in Ba Dinh square with its botanical gardens is huge and a pilgrimage for Vietnamese, fellow travellers of Socialism, Westerners and Easterners, Southerners and Northerners.
Which I shall from hence forth call my brothers and the family of Man
So its an early start because the list of “must see” is endless and we still want to shop until we drop because we LIVE TO EAT.
Lucky me –
For supper last night we had egg fried rice with prawns and brocolli and cheese and water biscuits we brought from home, showered and went to bed .
While Rene was cooking I went 20 yards outside to the ” corner shop ” where I bought one bottle of Ha Noi beer for 50p and a cartoon of milk and the kind man produced a modern corkscrew and bottle top opener for free and uncorked my red red wine.
So a good meal was improved.
After that we went to bed at an early hour hence the reason to take a leak and write this with a glass or two of Aldi’s best coffee and Asda Whole milk –
I have added mugs to the shopping list.
The sort we westerners drink from.
But that is another English language saying –
Seems we all need mugs for our coffee fix in the morning. ha ha
To be continued……………………………….
Penny for the Guy here would be “300 Dong
for the the catholic” who tried and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament,
but I wish you rays of light as you set off your fireworks.
PS – HOW DELICIOUS the BBC IS BANNED FROM THE INTERNET HERE –
AT LEAST IT WONT LOAD !