Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hanoi Day 1 (PM) - Saturday 12.04.08

The Dong Xuan Market

We were all so eager to hit the streets of Hanoi. The guy at the reception had earlier given us the map of Hanoi. Just now in the room we sort of identified the areas where we were going to. I had prepared a simple itinerary of our 3 days visit. The itinerary included a city tour and perhaps a visit to Halong Bay on our last day. Other than that, it was shopping, shopping and more shopping. That was the mission.

We asked the guy at the reception to help us get a cab. He asked where was our destination. Simultaneously, we choired the word "Dong Xuan Market" in a harmonious and happy tune. The cab arrived in jiffy. We got in and instructed the driver to bring us to the market.

Check out the motorcycles on the streets

The driver spoke little English and even when he did attempt to do so, I could not comprehend what he was saying. The words sounded funny. Anyway, we were not so bothered by our non English speaking cabbie. It was the traffic on the road that scarred us the most. Lots of criss crossing and they seemed to have their own rules on the road. Don't get me wrong. It's not that the motorists were notorious nor were they hell drivers. Each one of them surely seemed to know what they were doing on the road and they sort of looked out for each other. How do they do that?? Boy...don't ask just have to see it for yourself.

Asams of all sorts at Dong Xuan Market

We got to Dong Xuan market in about 20 minutes. Actually, the market was not that far but drivers in Hanoi don't drive fast. Our cabbie for example did not hit 50km/hr...that's for sure. Even though they drive slowly on the roads, there were no traffic jams in the city. There were no highways. Just the two lane street packed with bicycles, motorbikes and people.

Dong Xuan market looked a bit like Central Market in least the front facade lah. We then walked in and saw many handbags bergantung-gantung along the walkway in. It was a very busy market. People were all over the place. Some were busy making transactions while others were busy carrying loads of barang on their shoulders. Some of these barang carriers were women. Gosh they must be very strong. No need to go gym...

Boing-boing they were all every where

We then headed to the second floor and what did we see????? Aaahhhhhh.....fabrics and lots, lots of them. As Muni & I are into this new tudung thingy, the fabrics we saw were just the exact ones we needed for our tudungs. sure terjebak la nii...... Mak....pls help!!!!

The Vietnamese sellers didn't speak English. Thus how on earth did we communicate? Alah..apa lagi cara...tekan calculator lah and lots of self created sign language. There were also times when we had to scribble our prices on paper. When they didn't agree to our prices, they'd cancel the figure we had written and they wrote their price on top. Crude but effective.

Bargaining was a sure thing to do. Bargain and bargain hard. I managed to walk away with really, really good bargains for the "boing-boing" materials at the fabric section in the market. We also learnt numbers in Vietnamese language. One is mod, two is hai, three is ba and four is pon. So if you need to buy 1 meter of kain, you have to say mod met (for meter). So all along we were saying mod met...mod met.

Entah napa tah, masa I saw the place all lined with the kain-kain, I started to sing to the tune of one of the songs from the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding". Yg the song towards the end of the movie....someday when I'm awfully low....when the world is cold....I feel a glow just thinking of you.... and the way you look tonight...(later I checked the title of the song is The Way You Look Tonight by Tony Bennett). Then Jupe also started to sing along....apa dah tengok kain je dah jadik weng!!!

After the "boing-boing" kain purchase we sort of wondered around in the market. Looked at the bags and tried bargaining. Unfortunately, not much luck at that time. About two hours later we came out of the market. We asked for directions to go to the Water Puppet theater. We thought we should try get tickets to the show that night perhaps. We asked people around us how far was the Water Puppet place. I asked the guy who looked like the security personnel at the Dong Xuan market. He didn't speak English. He showed me the sign as if he was asking me to wait. He later emerged with a girl who actually spoke some English to help us with our enquiry. Boy!!! That was some hospitality he showed us. We were impressed.

IKEA shopping bags anyone?? Only RM2/pcs

The lady told us to walk straight and we would find the place. We asked if we should take a cab. She said no...she said walk..walk. Ok lah, since she said so we shall walk lorrr. Ahah!!! There was an obvious reason why she told us to walk. What do know, the street heading towards our destination was packed with shops!!! A heaven for shoppers. We then stopped to buy some IKEA shopping bags to put our purchases in. Dah nak terkoyak dah our plastic bag isi kain tu..hehe..heheh.

A landmark in Hanoi

We then came to the corner of the road. From time to time we checked our map to see if we were on the right track. One time when we stopped, we stood infront of a jewelery shop and there was this transparent bangle on the display window. Both Jupe and I had spotted it. We looked at each other but there was like no calling to go check out the bangle. It was something like jade, light brown in colour and you could actually see the grains in the stone. We said tak pe lah...later can go check the bangle out. Priority was to get tickets for the Water Puppet.

Bags grow on trees

More bags lined on the street

The road heading to the Water Puppet theater had other "cabaran" for us. Bags la plak bergantungan!!!! We saw lots of Kippling bags, LeSportsac, North Face bagpacks etc, etc, etc. Ayooo......susah la like this. Iman sure tak kuat punyer. All the bergantung ones were exactly our fancies. We walked into one store to the next. Tried some bargaining. Ade yg nak bagi and ader gak yang didn't bother moving from their seat. Either they were too engrossed on the TV our busy eating. There was this one shop. Tiga kali we went in and without fail we saw two ladies who were glued to the set!!! Wei..tak nak menjual kerr??? Kat kedai dia ader LeSportsac yang tersangat la cun..paisley lagi design dia. Adoi la minah....why la u buat tak layan!

View of Hoan Kiem lake

Anyway, to cut the story short. We didn't manage to get tickets to the Water Puppet show that night. We got tickets for the next night. We were exhausted by then. Kaki pun dah sakit. We crossed over and went to lepak at the lake. We sat there for quite a while jugak la. Waiting for time to go have dinner at a Muslim restaurant in the area.

Jupe & I lepaking at the lake

As we waited at the lake I texted another friend, Nawal who was also in Hanoi. She was on her repeat visit this time. When her reply came in, it was obvious that we were not the only crazy ones here. Nawal and her friends were also going hyper with their shopping. Gilos...memang gilos and we were excited like crazy.

Hanoi cabs

We then went for dinner at this Muslim restaurant called Nissa restaurant. Sama plak nama restaurant dgn nama my little girl..heh...heh. We sort of took the long way to the restaurant. Pada hal tak de la jauh sangat from the place we lepak. Tak pe lah....adventure...but kaki dah sakit lorrr.

We had Malay food that night. Had sambal, vege and other stuffs. Tak ingat what we ordered. But since we were kind of lapar gilerr...blasah je!! Later some people who were together in our flight this morning walked in. Sempat gak la berkenalan.

After dinner, we headed towards the night market on the street towards Dong Xuan market. On our way there, sempat stop at this painting show and got paintings for a steal. Seven of those Vietnamese embroidery paintings for USD36. Sampai terduduk membargain. Lastly dapat gak the price we wanted. I told the girl either she sold us the 7 paintings the price we offered her or she made no sale from us that night. Kena tarik harga skit lerr...acah skit. But kalu she tak bagi price we nak tu...hah...melepas wei!! Mau kena jalan balik to the shop buat muka tebal beli dgn harga more expensive. Nasib baik...

Night market stuff

Ceramic painting

We then got to the night narket. Alamak!!! It was a real dissapointment to us. It was nothing like the ones we saw in Chiangmai or Bangkok. Many of the sellers were selling those funny looking clothes like those amoi from Jinjang would have on them. We had actually thought that it might be like an arts market ker..u knw something yg would reflect the culture of the people. So we walked up and down again and all set to go home lah.

Then on the corner of the street where we wanted to get a cab home, nampak plak kedai jual table cloth. Actually the lady was about to close shop for the day. But when Jupe and I walked in, she started to bring out all the 8 seater table table cloths she had. Laaa...dah la berlambak-lambak table cloths to choose from. Here we also bargained hard. Tetiba masa tengah membargain tu, my phone rang. minister call lerrr. Ayooo nak tau apa ni?? Let's make the report short and sweet...Beb...I have almost finished the Dong money you gave me and I still have two more days to go. Nasib baik ler tak cakap like that. But ABE sure can sense punyer. He sure tau yg I bershopping tak ingat. He could tell from the excitement in my voice. Apa-apa lah...yg penting nyer thank you very much la for sponsoring my purchases ...heheh.

Then came this Indon lady and she pun tompang semangkuk with our bargaining. Tu tak kisah sgt la. Yang I sort of bengang, she had kept aside one table cloth yg I liked. Tulah...silap I jugak. Tak kepit terus table cloth tu..tak pe lah....not meant for me lah tu..I told myself. But sedih jugak ler...

Muni was in the next door shop. Already terduduk memilih bedsheets. Hah...pilih...tebar jgn tak tebar!! When we were buying the table cloths tu, suddenly the guys (more like uncles lerr) whom we met on the plane just now tegor us. We asked them if they were busy shopping. They said they didn't know what to buy!!! Adoi la..pak cik-pak cik least beli je lah 1 table cloth ker for the wife back home. Bukan la susah sgt. Hampeh betol lah those guys...apa lah yg they cari in Hanoi ni agak nyer and they were gonna be in the city longer than us. Ahh...malas nak kay pohci la...ikut suka u all ler...nak gi buat apa pun!!

After the table cloth stint, we were ready to go back. IKEA shopping bag tu pun dah penuh and kaki dah sakit daa... Apa lagi balik lah.

IKEA bag...before stuffs were unloaded

the kains...

the paintings

the table cloths

We got back to the hotel in no time. Went straight back to our room and seperti biasa ritual selepas shopping, atur barang-barang and went snap, snap here...snap, snap there. Ala-ala CSI la plak..

That night we all slept like a log. Penat, happy and very satisfied!!!

Esok day two....

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