10,187 km so far.
All you can eat breakfast is quite something. As a hungry cycle tourist I made the most of it this morning, having four breakfasts in 90 minutes. The coffee was syrupy and roasted beyond all enjoyment, and the orange juice was sickly sweet sugar water, but the mango juice was fresh, the pancake was yum, and fresh fruit, roasted potatoes, and toast were also on offer.
My stomach is glad we have four nights here.
We ran around Ha Noi for the first few hours of the day working on our visa situation. We walked to the travel agent, back to the hotel, and then out again to the travel agent. This is probably a good thing considering all the breakfast I enjoyed.
Sunshine Travel made a few calls, and have assured us that for $37 each they will have us a visa extension by Friday morning, with no penalty for our visa expiring, since the expiry date was on a weekend. We’ll believe it when we see it.
Before we could apply, we had to get a letter from the hotel confirming our names, passport details, and that we are in fact staying there.
While waiting in the lobby for the staff to complete this task, we noticed a commotion outside. Across the street an ambulance had pulled up. Everyone in the street stopped what they were doing to see what would happen next.
A few minutes later a body on a stretcher, wrapped in a shroud, was brought out through the restaurant across the road, followed by what appeared to be the entire extended family of the recently deceased. They were all wailing and hanging onto each other, in the midst of extreme mourning.
It felt strange to be seeing this from behind the window of our hotel, as if watching a film. It also felt quite intrusive to be staring down at them from our immaculate lobby, so we quickly turned away and got back to the business at hand.
Rain Keeps Coming Down
We spent the rest of the morning walking in the mizzle through the Old Quarter.
We wandered down alleyways and poked our heads into shops filled with art, religious trinkets, and communist posters.
We craned our necks to better see the beautiful old buildings that line the streets.
Soon it was time for a break, so we settled into a small cafe called Cali Smoothies and ordered banana and cacao smoothies. Then we moved to the pho stall on the street outside, which was packed with fashionable Vietnamese people on their breaks from work. After eating enough breakfast for a small army, this was plenty to get me through the rest of the day.
Czech It Out
I have been anxious to check out the beer scene in Ha Noi, which is well documented on BeerVN.com. There seem to be endless options for visiting pubs with in-house breweries here. The bad news, for me, is that they all appear to brew German or Czech style beers. I prefer English bitters and American craft beer. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try some of the local brews while I’m here.
This afternoon I walked over to Hao Viên Bräuhaus for tmavy, a dark lager I last enjoyed in the Baltics. It was a good representation of a tmavy, although not as sweet as they tended to be in Eastern Europe.
The Bräuhaus is a massive old French building, not too far from the Hanoi Opera House. It is decorated with copper brewing casks and dark wood tables and chairs, making it an impressive place to drink. ♥