Hanoi - Vietnam
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  • We started our Vietnam trip in Hanoi on a Tiger Airways flight (wouldn't recommend this airline) from Singapore. We were picked up by the hotel 'limousine' and brought to the Hotel Elegance 3, situated in the heart of the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

    Hanoi with an estimated population 3.398.889 (2007), is the capital and cultural centre of Vietnam. The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi.

    The one thing that struck us about Hanoi and most of Vietnam is the heavy haze that hangs over the city. The other aspect is the mass of motorcycles. Despite the apparent chaos of the roads, which can be confronting to the newly arrived tourist, the Vietnamese people actually share their roads, in contrast to the western attitude of 'owning' the road. The almost incessant tooting of horns was more a 'warning' than an 'irritation' by motorist. Motorbikes would move around pedestrians very much like the parting of the red sea.

    Touting by store owners and transport providers was strongest in Hanoi, but things were cheap. We had purchased an item for USD24/- and then found the same item in Singapore selling for USD136/-. We were notably pleased.

    We didn't get the opportunity to experience all the cultural activities or displays in Hanoi and would definitely have to return some time again.

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    Our deluxe room at the Hotel Elegance 3. This was a gem of a hotel - really great staff
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    ditto
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    Hoan Kiem Lake - this is the central lake in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Its name means "The Lake of the Restored Sword", referring to a 15th-century legend in which the nobleman Le Loi, who fought for the Vietnamese against Ming China, received his sword from a magic turtle living in the lake.
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    The nobleman defeated the Ming and returned home in victory. One day, the emperor was boating in the lake when the turtle surfaced demanding the sword's return. In memory of this event, the emperor built the Tortoise Tower on an island at the south end of the lake.
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    The larger island on the north side of the lake holds Ngoc Son temple.
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    Bridge to the island (and Ngoc Son temple). Note the algae filled water - or more romantically 'Emerald Green waters'
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    On the bridge to the temple
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    Entrance to the temple island
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    The temple was originally built during the Tran dynasty (1225-1400) but was last restored in 1865.
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    Hoan Kiem lake - looking north from the south
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    Typical old quarter buildings at the northern end of the lake
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    Sampling food from a street stall - Escargot is being sampled in this instance
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    Can't really say we're fans of Cyclo rides, but they were popular with certain groups of tourists ;-)
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    Night scene
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    Colourful souvenirs for the tourists
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    Typical shop houses in Hanoi
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    Some look prettier than others
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    Power cables everywhere
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    After a while, this became a regular scene
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    It's amazing the number of electricutions isn't higher around here
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    Chihuahuas were common as pets. Don't think they were a favoured delicacy
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    Typical street in the old quarter
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    Not really sure what this is, but being tourists, we had to take a pic
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    Don't ever complain about the state of your backyard again
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    St Joseph's cathedral - think it could do with a bit of a sponge bath
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    The opera house in Hanoi
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    'Chain' of little kids traversing the Hanoi roads
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    Someone thinks he's a fruit merchant
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    Motorbikes fit better into narrow alleyways
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    External facade of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
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    The Ho Chi Minh museum
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    The 'one pillar' pagoda. Originally of timber and built on stilts in 1049, it was destroyed by the French for the heck of it. This is a concrete reconstruction.
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    Some tails, bits of hoof and other gristly (grisly) bits ... ooohh yuuummmmm, not!
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    Street market - customers simply ride up on their motorbikes to make purchases
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    Making friends with a stall owner
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    More motorbikes, bicycles and cars - all share the road quite happily
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    Oooo, how cute ... but these weren't pets
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    Buildings in the grounds of the temple of literature
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    The Hanoi train station - where we'd been more than a couple of times