a little bit of silliness....click on the picture to create a fly for it to eat....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekend adventures...

I have to confess that I was a total wimp this past Saturday.  Hung around my room for most of the day because my pals were all working and I havn't quite got confident enough to go eating out on my own! How sad is that?  But I've promised myself this week...I will, I will, I will.  Just as soon as I learn how to ask for what I want!
Friday evening we were kindly invited to drinks with the Kiwi contingent here in Hanoi.  Amanda (who is married to a kiwi at least) and I trucked along to the Hilton Towers for a beer or two with some homegrown company.  It was fun, we met some nice ladies who just decided to up sticks and come and teach English (independantly of each other) and some amazing women working for NGOs here.  Kudos ladies, for the work you do.  I thought I should make an effort so I whipped up some ginger crunch to take, well, ginger squishy I call it because I make it with ground almonds in the base...yummy.  It went down well and was a real conversation opener.  I kept having to check myself though, as smoking is still permitted inside buildings here, even posh ones like the Hilton.  Every time someone lit up I had to stop myself telling them to stub it out!  Funny!

As I said Saturday was spent doing bugger all, I'd been a bit upset at the training center on Friday because I realised that some palette knives were missing from the boxes and with my menopausal memory I couldn't remember if I'd actually unpacked them or not.  It seemed that there were three possibilities, 1. That I'd chucked them out with the wrapping paper - which made me feel sick! 2. Someone had lifted them - which made me feel sicker and 3. They never arrived in the first place.  I had to email my mate Jo; who packed the boxes to ask her.  She didn't get a chance to check her emails till Sunday evening so it was a difficult couple of days...but Yipee...they were never sent.  I'm paradoxically happy that we haven't received something!!!
But I didn't know that then so Saturday was spent moping, reading "The girl with the dragon tattoo" and making a pasta sauce...comfort food!

I'm glad to report that Sunday was a much better day.  Amanda had suggested we walk round the West Lake, it's 14km all the way around.  We managed 13km then veered off for a foot massage.
The lake is huge, it was pretty misty at lunchtime when Amanda, Jon and I set off  but quite hot and the sun was strong despite it being Autumn.
Me, Jon and Amanda in front of a gorgeous pagoda gate.

Wicked dragon pagoda roof detail against the sky.

  We were a bit worried by the number of dead fish floating on the water.  Fishing here is not done with bait; the fishermen cast out a large arrangement of at least three razor sharp hooks and whisk it back in an attempt to simply gaff fish.  Maybe some of the dead fish had been gaffed but escaped only to die later. Alternatively they were dead from pollution...horrid thought.  At one point I found a small fish flopping around on the footpath and instinctively kicked it gently back into the water...to the amusement of my mates and the chagrin of the fisherman who was standing under the wall out of sight! Oops!   Ah well, Sea Shepherd of Hanoi - that's me!  We did walk a bit faster for a bit as the fisherman's mates pointed both at me and the fish which was swimming sluggishly away...I like to think it survived!   You will be pleased to hear that I didn't free the caged guinea fowl or the hog tied crabs...I'm not deliberately culturally insensitive - it was simply pure instinct.  I throw worms back onto soil if I find them on concrete too - big softy that I am.
Anyway I've included some photos of some of the lovely architecture we encountered on the way and pictures of our very expensive lunch of prawn fritter things.

Each fritter has two whole prawns - shell on - and you eat the whole thing.
You wrap the fritter in the lettuce and herbs then dip into the sauce and munch on down.

I let them eat first to make sure the shells were going to be edible...and they were.

We came across some weight training equipment that made me smile, talk about resourceful.  This dumbell is made of blocks of concrete on a pole. I thought it felt like 20kg but my much fitter companions put me to shame by telling me it was no more than 15kg....show's how unfit I've become!
Not the most flattering shot, but look at the dumbell thing...clever eh?
After our mega walk Amanda and I repaired to her favorite foot massage place.  Foot massage is a misnomer; they do your neck, shoulders, arms, feet, legs and back!  My masseuse was a real chatty cathy...now who does that sound like? :-)  We got into a bit of repartee which amused her and her mate no end..."Where you from?" she said.
"New Zealand" says I "Where are you from?" I asked to much hilarity.
"Japanese" she retorted cracking up.
"Origato" I replied. Well, this set the tone for the the whole massage, I got asked how old I was, whether I was married, had a boyfriend, what I was doing in Vietnam, how long I was here for, the whole kit and caboodle.  Naturally I parried with good humour, teasing her back which she enjoyed thoroughly.  At one point - continuing the Japanese theme she pointed to my legs and said "Sumo"  I fell apart..."Small Sumo" I stuttered with laughter.  I don't think she meant anything malicious and I really don't think I'm that fat yet but it did make us all laugh!  She made up for it however by also telling me that I had a beautiful smile...ahhh bless.  Making damn sure of a tip - clever girl! 
My tattoo really intrigued them "Ahhh, very beautiful" ...from what I've seen only 'ladies of the night' have ink over here.  Since I am obviously not one it causes some interest.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, she was great, the massage was both invigorating and relaxing if that's possible at the same time and I will be going back on a weekly basis from now on.  A 70 minute massage for 100,000vd  plus a 30,000vd tip for the masseuse (that's about $6.50aus!)...well worth it!

Jon is one of those blokes who doesn't like having anyone touch his feet so he chose not to come for the massage and we caught up with him later for dinner. We went to a Bi Tet (Beef steak) place near our respective homes.  The food was excellent but the photo on the wall behind me was even more amazing.  It was a bit of a photoshop frenzy. 
Take a look; pagodas, cliffs, a waterfall, tigers, grass that fades into water, koi carp, and it's a bit hard to see but there is one wee goat standing right up on the water's edge next to the waterfall, but my favourite bit is the hoof stock at the bottom right.  Look closely.
Love the way the grass becomes water and he koi carp on the bottom right are swimming all over the rock!

The front two are definitely American bison and the one at the back is either a yak or one of those Scottish Cattle w.ith the huge horns....gorgeous!  As Jon said, a perfect background for a wedding photo in Vietnam...gotta love the fairy lights too.

Now I'm back in my room, I've a little blister on my foot (damn you K Mart trainers!) my stomach is well and truly full and am feeling very sure that I will sleep like a baby tonight. 

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