Hanoi old quarter

We are smack in the old part of Hanoi, which is great. Just stepping out of the hotel means you get straight to the business of doing tourism. Today was cloudy and cold (it looks like the next few days will be similar), so we all sent our shorts to the wash and put on long trousers. The old quarter is really cool. For once it all the adjectives in Lonely Planet are fully deserved. It is full of narrow streets crammed with food stalls, cafes and all sorts of shops. There are virtually no house fronts, you access your flat through narrow dodgy looking passageways dotted about the place.

After walking for a bit we came to Hoan Kiem lake, a small lake in the middle of the old town. Next to the lake is the municipal water puppet theatre where we bought tickets for the Tuesday show. After that we crossed a short bridge to an 18th century pagoda on an island in the lake, Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain) Temple. Gave Buddha an offering of incense sticks, looked around for the 200 year old turtle of the lake and soon headed out.

The kids insisted we get a rickshaw tour for an hour, so we got cycled around the streets as the sky turned darker. Soon it started to rain, but the rickshaw has a roof, plus you get covered in plastic sheets, so we were perfectly dry. It was the only shower of the day, so it was good it didn't catch us on the streets.

Hanoi is famous for it's food, especially on the streets. We dove into a local place (with roof, in case it rains again) with plastic stools and had a great lunch, followed by a great coffee next door (where the kids were subjected to a photo shoot by a group of Chinese tourists).

For the rest of the day we went to a shopping mall to go to the cinema (Mr Sherman and Peabody). Did a spot of shopping as well, while we waited for the film to start. Lucas got new shoes (with lights when you walk!), Aisha got some sandals to replace the $3 ones we bought after forgetting hers on the bus, and Esther got a pair of jeans. I'm OK for clothes.

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