No snakes, no funky insects in there; nope, those are rum infusions as you can read above. You can find them at a bar I'm starting to like - Roots! The banana works like magic, and I can't wait to try the passionfruit one. It's supposed to be ready this weekend!
Bia Hơi is another vietnamese institution, consisting in drinking locally-brewed beer in a loud and bustling atmosphere; it can be quite fun when you know what food to order along (everything is in Vietnamese - at least to the one I went to) and it's always very cheap: less than 30 cents a glass!
Here we are again, in the Temple of Literature. This courtyard is where the students used to be relaxing after their lessons, a couple of hundred of years ago. I'm not sure they would be able to relax anymore today with the cars and bikes permanently honking their horns just next to it! But at least the view itself is rather soothing. Enjoy the visit!
One thing you'll notice about Hanoi is that there aren't that many houses that are built in a style we're used to seeing in Europe or in America; I was hence stunned to discover this one last weekend, right in the middle of the old quarter and its 36 streets. I wonder how hot it must be getting in there during this period!
How much is a Van Gogh, or a Dali worth? Well, you may find some here for a couple of dollars. Of course the quality of the copy will be very inconsistent, but that something you can live with at that price.
The weekend was great and sunny (and humid!), today marks the start of a new week and the come back of the heavy thunderstorms and rain. See you tomorrow, folks!
I was strolling down the road the other day when this lady offered to sell some snacks that were unknown to me; I gladly accepted the offer and discovered it was some glutinous buns that were tasting like prawns... Not exactly what I had in mind but hey, at least now I know ;).
As I was exiting the Temple of Literature the other day I gladly realized that there was a fair mix of locals and overseas tourists; it's always so much better this way, just rather than a flow of French visitors invading every attraction!
Do you remember finally getting your degree by reading your name on some paper listing on the university's walls?
Well, that's nothing compared to what the former Emperors used to be doing here. During over 600 years, the name of the graduates have been written in stone (literally) on those steles carried by giant turtles. For those in Hanoi, go have a look at the Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu); it's really worth the visit.
Ladies and gents, please allow me to introduce you to one of Vietnam's culinary institutions: not Phở 24 which is just a restaurant chain, but rather to the phở itself; if you have come to Vietnam one day in your life you must have tasted this yummy rice-noodle soup dish which variations are almost endless. The most common one will have minced beef in it (but other meats and organs are allowed, too), flat noodles and some seasoning in the form of fresh onions, lime and bean sprouts in a clear broth.
The pronunciation takes a little while to get used to, though - if you want to be understood with an English accent you should say something like 'fuh'!
As I was mentioning in an earlier post, one of the ways people pay respect to the dead is by burning money (fake money that is). You can actually guess that's what's going on here, next to this beautiful tree. And I can tell you that you get quite a sense of peace when you're there...
Burning incense sticks, Buddha image; those are, I think, the only common points between the different kinds of Buddhism across the region. It's interesting to see that the way devotion is shown completely varies from country to country, and hence from one culture to another.
Another colorful doorstep (sorry, can't help it! ;)).
I often wondered what were those telephone numbers you can see on the walls everywhere around town; I got my answer pretty recently: it's actually the way the masons advertise here. When I come to think about it, I prefer that to the zillions paper ads we receive in our mailboxes in Europe - it's nice and it saves trees!
Hàng Khoai, or 'sweet potato street', is home to one of Hanoi's mosques. The poetry of it is that 'mosque' is apparently translated in Vietnamese by 'nhà thờ', which is the same word than... 'church'. One small step for ecumenism, and one giant step to make learning vietnamese easier!
One of the ways to pay respects to the departed is to burn offerings; and where to buy that? Well, right here in Hàng Mã ('votive papers' street). You'll find paper notes and many other items for that effect.
I bought a stack of hundred-dollar bills for slightly less than $0.5; the two young ladies were puzzled at first that a foreigner could even be interested in buying those, and then giggled about it. A fun afternoon!