November 10, 2002

Weather: high of about 80ºF and sunny

Our first couple of days in Hanoi, we do nothing but walk around the few blocks near our hotel and recover from the long train ride.

Our experience in Hanoi was mostly defined by early mornings.  We arrived in Hanoi twice at 5am.  That's before hotels open, so we spent a couple of mornings from 5 to 7 wandering around the lake.  Here Julie tries to look pleasant despite a long night train ride and a long wait for the sun to come up and a cafe to open.
Hmmm, this photo probably isn't from Hanoi at all because Julie has a rain coat on.  It must be from Hue before we got on the train, but it is still a lovely shop and there is probably a shop just like it in Hanoi.
Hanoi felt so homey and European after the rest of Vietnam.  It is still ruled by the moto (as in the center of this photo), but it is surrounded by tree-lined streets and plenty of beauty.
We made an excursion to Ho Chi Minh's tomb, but found it closed (the blue sign says, "No Entrance" and the uniformed guards probably say "No Entrance", but I didn't stick around to work out the translation).  We arrived at the unlucky time each year when Uncle Ho is sent to Russia for a little extra embalming.
The highlight of Hanoi for me was my "hot toc".  I had been learning Vietnamese by reading street signs and one of the easiest to spot was the hot toc or hair cut.  I finally stopped for a haircut and shave at this strip of barbers.  Not only did I get a haircut and a regular straight razor shave, but he also shaved my forehead, my earlobes, between my eyebrows, and my nose – all with a straight razor.

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