The Solace of Old Friends - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

November 6, 2016

The Solace of Old Friends

Holed up in Hanoi

Hanoi, November 6-11

Dear little friends,

We were always planning on coming back to Hanoi to spend several days exploring the city. We had been advised to move our headquarters out of the Old Quarter, and we were glad we did. In the week or so since we had left the tourist population had exploded and the Old Quarter was insane.

A restaurant in a beautiful old building.
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There were a few hotels near Truc Bach Lake, coincidentally the same lake where John McCain was shot down during the war. We spent Sunday morning walking along the shore, and were happy to see a thriving cycling community out on Sunday rides, and we even stumbled upon a group of people who collect vintage Peugeot bicycles and had them dolled up and on display. Some pretty sweet old steel there.

Sunday morning stroll around one of the lakes in Hanoi.
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We stumbled on a large group of men who possibly meet every Sunday morning with their vintage Peugeot bicycles near the lake. Piles of parts to trade as well.
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There was coffee to drink and the journal to catch up on. The weather gradually got worse, our tolerance for the street traffic got lower, I’m not ashamed to say we pretty much holed up in our nice little room in the Anh Hotel, eating muesli for breakfast and then finding a bun cha or fried rice in the afternoon.

The famous Duy Tri Cafe in continuous operation since 1938. It's tight and cozy.
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Cafes abound in Hanoi
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Our room had CNN and we watched the election with a lot of shock and dismay and sadness. Our friends touring in Taiwan did the same, and we talked to them via Facebook phone to help us all cheer up, and it helped. Our bellboy saw that we were sad, and directed us to a new bun cha place four feet from our hotel door, hey, we take solace where we can.

A Bia Hoi beer hall. Draft beer for 28 cents a pint!! And the beer tasted good until we realized all glasses were rinsed in the same tub of water. But we needed this place after that ridiculous U.S. election outcome.
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Back in 2007 our friend Carol Kresge, who runs an excellent literacy project and library in Luang Prabang, Laos, had found a student for us to sponsor. Laynou is an amazing young man, soft-spoken and bright and ambitious. He got a scholarship to study law in Hanoi, after first taking a year of Vietnamese there. We met him for dinner and caught up on his life and his family. In 2008 his parents hosted us in their village in Sayaburi province which was quite an experience and a very fond memory of ours.

Laynou, our friend from Laos now living in Hanoi going to school to get his Master's Degree in law. We see him too seldom.
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In 2009 we met a couple of Canadians in Cambodia that we kept in touch with, and very coincidentally they were in Hanoi too, so we met up with them at the Water Puppet Theater (which was delightful) and then went out to eat and drink draft beer. They own a yacht on Vancouver Island and take folks out on wildlife cruises during the summer and travel in the winter. They were still pretty jet lagged but It was really fun to see them again.

We met Toddy and Al in Ban Lung, Cambodia in 2009. Always wonderful to know folks this keen on travel as these two.
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Finally on Friday morning the chilly rain was leaving and so were we.

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