Monday, November 9, 2009

Hanoi Sue, Sarah & Karen

After three nights in Saigon, it was time to move on. I have been sad about giving up Phnom Penh, but locals tell me not to fret. Hanoi is an old time favorite; we were last here exactly a year ago so it's important to check on changes.

The domestic terminal of the Saigon airport is much more low-key than International and very 1975 in terms of decor. Indeed, travel within VN is fairly easy. We arrived at the airport many hours ahead of our flight jsut for good luck and sat around the airport contemplating the fact that the gift shop was selling Durian To Go. How can a fruit that is against the law to transport on a bus in Hong Kong be sold in a net bag for easy travel in the Saigon airport?

Our Viet Nam Air flight, a spiffy 777, was rather full but not totally jam-packed. The flight from Saigon to Hanoi is two hours as this is a distance much further than you may assume. Bangkok is closer. As if Phnom Penh, but enough about that haunting booboo.

We pulled into the hotel-- where Sarah and I have stayed numerous times-- and were met at the door by Tran, our butler. KVF had booked our rooms here and go all out. This is my first time to stay in the 'new' portion of the hotel-- a modern tower behind the historic part. KVF booked one large room and ordered and extra bed so the three of us could share. The hotel scattered around extra Hermes amenities and we decided to share th butler, although we don't quite know what to do with him. Cost for this room-- which happened to be the last available room in the hotel when we were booing through the Accor sight-- is about $365 per night and we get the lounge, internet use, cocktails, etc.

I myself am fond of watching the TV commercial (thoughtfully on a loop) that shows the hotel in 1901 when it opened. The mdoern tower came on about 12 years ago-- our room is somewhat in the colonial style with a touch of Victoriana goes Starck. We have a jaunty clawfoot tub at an angle with a view out the window or to its own flat screen TV-- thre's a separate glass shower stall and a lot of beds. Seeing ourlaundry dotted all over the place is an artist form you may want to miss.

Art here is amazing and one of my first stops was to my favorite gallery, across the street from the hotel. I bought a 'serious' painting last year; this year the asking price on the same artist's work is up 40%.

The gallery is n the corner of a man throughfare which I have always called Book Street for thenumber of book stores. Turns out it's also optical heaven with almost one dozen opticians. Glasses frames began at $11 a pair.

We made a dinatoire out of the snacks in the lounge, visited with some American photojournalists and hit the sack. I was asleep at 7:30 PM. Love that jetlag.

Now we're off to Hang Gai the street of silk shops. Had all my tailoring done in Saigona nd have spent my wad, but tit's great to visit old friends...and find out if i can find Adobe9 Professional.

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