It was a slow day to begin with; we didn’t even leave the hotel until after lunch. Sometimes you need to rest and recharge, and I guess this was one of those days. We didn’t have anything on the agenda until the evening, so the day was ours to wander around, and we did.
It was Sunday, so they had the street only open to pedestrians, which was like a mini vacation not having to worry about being hit by a vehicle. We decided to get a beverage and people watch, which is quite interesting in Hanoi and I literally could probably spend the whole day doing it. There were two cafes that we saw on the second floor balcony, so once we saw the first was filled we tried the second. There was room on the balcony, so I wedged myself on the Vietnamese-sized bench and enjoyed my delicious frozen lemonade…again. I can’t believe I’m eating the ice, but I am and it’s delicious and I’ve had no problems whatsoever. I think the key is to go to the places that are frequented by locals; they wouldn’t go where they’d get sick, so…
Sal had an egg coffee.
These cafes don’t have your normal entrances…Sal took this video when we left the second cafe to show you the path you take. So strange and cool.
Sal needed a haircut, and since he normally just uses an electric hair trimmer and shaves everything the same length we thought, ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ and found a place. The price was $6.60. It was more a hair salon than a barber, and that may have been a mistake on our part. The man that cut Sal’s hair just didn’t understand what he meant by ‘short’. He showed Sal some pics and spent *a lot* of time trying his best. Sal kept saying, “shorter’. The guy was using scissors instead of the electric hair trimmer. It was the most careful and precise not-quite-what-he-wanted haircut in Sal’s life. While I sat there waiting, and waiting, I was watching what else was going on in the tiny salon. There were women getting their hair done, too, and the strange thing was that after their hair was washed, they’d go and sit in the styling chair and they’d get their ears cleaned. The stylist would get Q-tips and give them a deep cleaning. So weird. I wish I could have gotten a picture. They also have two people work on one person’s hair a lot when drying or curling, it seems.
Eventually Sal was done, and we were thirsty, so we tried fresh beer for the first time. Now fresh beer is this non-pasteurized beer that is meant to be drunk the same day. We had read about it before coming and wanted to check it out mostly for the experience. We walked up to the place, a little confused on what to do, and someone was soon there saying, “want beah?!”. Why yes, yes we did. He motioned towards inside to sit, but we motioned toward the outside so we could people watch. The beer was just as good as any beer I’ve had in SE Asia, and it was only 3% alcohol. We really enjoyed being the only foreigners there for a while, with the locals. The beers ended up being less than $.50 per beer. And that was the foreigner price.
We decided we needed some food after the beer and we had limited time, so we found a Banh Mi (sandwich) place with high reviews sort of on the way back to the hotel. We ordered our sandwiches at the cart pretty quickly, and were given a receipt and pointed to the next building where there was seating and drinks. Then we waited and waited. We saw people come in after us getting their sandwiches and since we had to be back to the hotel by a certain time Sal went and asked the man about ours. Somehow they had lost the ticket, but we didn’t have to wait long after Sal checked. The sandwiches were delicious, especially Sal’s with the mixed meat and pate. When we went to pay he gave us the sandwiches free, as well as an apology. I’d go back there again; the sandwiches were that good and less than $2.
We took an Uber back to the hotel, which was less than a dollar and very easy. After we got back we freshened up and changed clothes for our night time adventure of going to the Hanoi Opera House to hear the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra put on a concert. We both enjoy classical music, but had never been strictly to see an orchestra before.
The theatre was small and our seats were just a few rows from the stage. The very first song they played I actually knew, and couldn’t stop grinning the whole time because it was really good. The next song featured an Oboe soloist, who reminded me of the Pied Piper. He was really good and seemed to be a hit with the local audience.
The last song I wasn’t familiar with, but still very much enjoyed. While I was watching I noticed this guy, who needs longer socks, and then that was all I could look at.
We took an Uber back and called it a successful day.