Hanoi

1/10/07-1/11/07

Due to lack of time, after only spending two days in Saigon, we flew to Hanoi today. Right away, I liked Hanoi better. Although it’s the capital of Vietnam, it’s a much smaller city than Saigon. 4 million people live here, half as much as in Saigon (although there are 3 million motorbikes!). the city is a maze of tiny little streets going in every direction and filled with tons of small shops. The buildings here are smaller but more intricate than the ones in Saigon. An interesting thing here is that a lot of the buildings are “tunnel houses”. There used to be a housing tax based on how much street space a building occupied, so to get around that, people built houses that were very narrow but tall and deep… it looks pretty crazy.

We stayed in the old quarter. In the old days, each street here was designated to sell one particular thing: cotton street, fish street, incense street etc, but nowadays everyone just sells random things all over the place. This is definitely a good place to just wander around and get lost in. although there are less scooters here, the streets are much narrower, so it might be even more scary to cross the street here! Other than just walking about, we also checked out this cool pagoda that’s on a tiny island in this lake.


this vietnamese woman made me wear her stuff for a photo… so dorky!!

One night in Hanoi we decided to check out the water puppet theater. This is a northern Vietnamese tradition where they make wooden puppets which do little performances on the water. The puppeteers (who are hidden behind the set) make puppets swim around, walk on water, etc. it was actually really neat. Lots of the puppets have moving limbs etc, and it’s really impressive just how animated the puppeteers make them.

We had two memorable dining experiences in Hanoi. We ate at a French café and tried frog legs. They were actually pretty good, and yeah, they do taste like chicken. It is kind of weird though when you’ve eaten all the meat and you see this funky frog shaped bone left. Another night, we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner and went out to seafood. Looking over the menu, we saw that they had these huge golf ball sized snails which are a delicacy here in Hanoi. We decided to give it a shot. Our waiter took us down to a separate room where they kept all the fish etc, but there turned out not to be any huge snails that day… there were however lots of lobsters. Even though the lobsters were insanely expensive (about $100, but these were massive 2.5 pound lobsters), we decided to go for it. So, the guy grabs a lobster out of the tank and the thing starts going totally nuts… struggling and snapping and trying to get free. Ugh, it was awful and I started feeling really bad. I didn’t want to actually see the lobster that they were about to kill for us. So, we went back to our table and were all bummed. To make things worse, they totally overcooked the lobster and it tasted pretty bad. *sigh*. In hanoi, there are several restaurants that serve dog. I had been mulling it over as to whether I should go try it. Btu after the whole lobster scenario, I decided that I wouldn’t do it. If someone else was eating dog and offered some, I’d try it for sure just to see what it tastes like, but I couldn’t bring myself to go down there and know that a dog was slaughtered for me. Just too sad. I was reading in the guidebook that a lot of these dogs are raised on farms, but some of them are just snatched off the street!! Because of that, the Vietnamese who own dogs as pets are very possessive of them and don’t let wander very far!

*v

9 thoughts on “Hanoi”

  1. dude, i cant have fido killed just so i could see what he tastes like. just can’t!! if someone else was eating it though.. i’d try it..

  2. I guess you’ll just have to come out here and order some Spot, Tom. Be the pioneer.

  3. If you eat dog, you had better not get any weird ideas and come back with some kind of a dog craving or I won’t let you into my house!

  4. Yeah, it’s so much harder to kill something than it is to eat it. Last weekend, Chris and I bought four live crabs from the Asian market. Since we have Kare’s birthday coming up, and we’re making a bunch of crab for her birthday, I’ve been reading up on crab.

    Evidently, there are those who think that cooking the crab with the viscera in tact adversely affects the flavor of the meat; however, removing the viscera prior to cooking the crab consists of ripping the crab’s top shell off and scooping it out while the crab’s still alive!

    My family and I never do this, but we decided to give it a shot. That is, we had the fish monger do it – I don’t think I can stomach it. Unfortunately, I don’t think that he knew what the hell he was doing. When we got home and opened the bag containing the crabs, the crabs were still kind of scrabbling around! Apparently, the viscera was still in tact. I proceeded to scoop it out myself, which was pretty traumatic since they sort of squirmed around and stuff. I felt so bad! Next time, I’m removing the viscera after the crabs are dead.

  5. really?! why not?! what if it’s an ugly dog, would that make it ok? what about cat?

  6. sheez, that sounds horrible. i dont think i could ever buy a live animal from a store for cooking. i’d just feel to awful. and i know it’s stupid, and what does it really matter cause the crab i ate would be killed regardless if it was me doing it or the grocer.. but somehow i’d just feel better having nothing to do with it!

    *v

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