Saturday morning we headed north with Mr. Bruce, another foreign teacher here at Hong Duc (though not for long). He was going to the airport, and we weren’t, so his driver dropped off on the west side of Ha Noi where we grabbed a taxi and headed off to Old Faithful (aka the Hanoi Holidays Hotel).
Unfortunately, on arrival we were moved to another hotel. While this may seem odd, it’s probably somewhere along the the twelfth or thirteenth time in our numerous stays that it’s happened. Usually it’s to a soiled and tired old hotel down by St. Joseph’s Cathedral, but this time it was just around the block to Charming Hotel.
And it was quite charming. The only drawbacks were that the tiny room cost us five dollars more and we couldn’t access the fridge because of the extra cot they had to bring in for us. C’est la vie. It was nice and free of mildew stains, plus it had a window. Ah, blessed windows.
Along the drive we passed this woman, which triggered my pineapple craving and as soon as we ran across someone in the Old Quarter selling the darling fruits, I bought one.
Plopped on a doorstep, the woman had already cut several pineapples into pieces and bagged them, eagerly waiting for the next customer.
“Pineapple, madam?” she called out as we approached.
“Mm, yes. Bao nhieu?”
I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. Only tourists pay more than a dollar for a bit of pineapple. I smiled, “10,000.”
“Ok.” And she handed me a bag full of sweet, almost warm from the day’s heat, pineapple. Delicious.
Much of the weekend was spent splitting our time walking around the Hoan Kiem area and cooling off indoors. The temperature was butting right up to and then over the century mark, which made lengthy treks impossible.
So, instead, we would head out for an hour or two at a time before heading back to our air-conditioned (and television-equipped) hotel room. Despite the heat, it was beautiful.
We ventured out for food at Pepperoni’s (where the kids got pasta carbonara and meat-lover’s pizza. I was again stuck with salad–darned wheat intolerance).
We found a new pair of shoes for Stuart and another pair of sandals for me. Audrey never found anything she liked, though.
We visited our old haunt: the DVD shop and picked up Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian for less than a dollar. Keith has supplied us with enough movies to last all summer, so we were being extra picky (yes, even at that price.)
The views were stunning around Hoan Kiem. The green of the trees and the water contrasted so beautifully with the blue sky.
Keith and Trang invited us to dinner at Ciao Cafe, so we got the ground-level view on the way over and after dinner we headed to another cafe. Perched on the fourth level of the building, it had a wonderful view of Hanoi and, especially, Hoan Kiem lake. It made the heat almost bearable, drinking mixed-fruit smoothies and enjoying the vista.