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Walking North

The centre of Hanoi is situated west of the Red River and at its heart is a small lake called Hoan Kiem. I’m staying at the west side of the Old Quarter, about a 20 minute walk from Hoan Kiem. North of here are 2 other lakes. Truc Bach is pretty much directly north, about a half hour’s walk. It is connected to a larger lake to the west, Ho Tay, or West Lake. The two bodies of water appear to be separated by a causeway.

Walking north, I found myself on a wide avenue. On either side are some kind of guarded, walled in government or military buildings that stretched for blocks. Beyond that, I was back into neighbourhood streets again, with a varity of eateries, cafes and other businesses. My first destination was the Hanoi Cooking Centre, which offers a variety of Vietnamese cooking classes in English. I signed up for tomorrow afternoon’s class featuring dishes from Hanoi and the Northern Highlands.

From there I decided to have a look at Truc Bach.

I sat down on a lovely mosaic bench and watched a fellow fishing, using spinning gear, a bobber and a worm for bait. While I was there he caught a catfish, perhaps 15 inches long.

I continued on to West Lake. There is a perimeter road with sidewalks along the lake. At one point I passed a business renting paddle boats. It was not so different from lakefronts everywhere.

At a lakefront cafe, I took a seat on the second floor balcony and ordered up a smoothy. Hanoi does coffee and smoothies tremendously well.

From here I received Whats App messages from home about Bong Joon-ho’s tremendous success at the Oscars for his brilliant film, Parasite.

Last night I was up a couple times during the night and then out the door before 7 for breakfast, and at this point I was thinking an afternoon nap was a choice idea. I decided to try my Grab app for the first time.

Grab is much like Uber except they run a motorbike service which is hugely popular here. Unlike Uber back home, though, payment is in cash. I put my destination into the app and within minutes, a driver appeared. He handed me a helmet, I hopped on the back of his motorbike and off we went into the madness that is Hanoi traffic. My ride of a couple miles cost me under 2 bucks. Fabulous, and fun too.

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