Our time in Hanoi was running out, with all of the activities, and sight seeing, it seemed that our last day in Hanoi just snuck up on us. And still no Bun Rieu. It's not like we hadn't tried, it seemed that we were always too late, or too early, as in the case of the food stalls at Dong Xuan Market and Bun Rieu Nam Bo. We even attempted to find the stall at 23 Bat Dan recommended by on of our guides, and the staff at Hanoi Elegance, but to no avail. After walking around aimlessly, we settled for Bun Rieu Cua from the stall down an alleyway, right off of Hang Bac, just a block and a half from our hotel.
This alleyway was usually fairly crowded, but at this time of the morning, it was nice to actually see some pavement.
And it did look rather delicious.....
This lady was really nice....we managed to order using, the point method, and either the "no" nod, or the "thumbs up". After trying to keep up with the process which was completed in a flash, with minimum wasted motion, you could tell she was a pro.
From the rinsing of the bowl, to the heating of the noodles, it was difficult to follow.
But the result was one mighty fine looking bowl of Bun Rieu.
On the positive side; this was one super hot bowl of soup. We've had many a bowl of lukewarm Bun Rieu. Also, the crab cake had a nice pungent-briny flavor, and nothing we've had approaches the flavor. We found the broth to be very mild, and lacking any real tangy-sour-salty-savory flavor, even the addition of garlic and fried shallots really didn't help much, and the bun was way too soft. The mix of greens provided was very fresh, and the chili paste was potent.
Being unable to hit any of the recommended Bun Rieu stalls was probably our biggest regret of our stay in Hanoi, but perhaps on one of our future trips. Still who's going to really complain about a 15,000 VND(just under $1 US) bowl of Bun Rieu.
The Missus was intent on visiting the Museum of Ethnology, but it was still much too early. We decided to take a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake. As documented in Wandering Chopstick's post, it seems like all of Hanoi turns the area around the lake into a giant gym in the morning. In the aprk across the street from the lake, there's gigantic exercise class going on.
As Peaches and Herb would say: "Shake your groove thing, shake your groove thing, yeah, yeah
Show 'em how we do it now"
Well, maybe not, but they sure had the moves down.
There are several sections that have Badminton going on. From just friendly games (here's the Missus getting smoked by Grandma).
To some really, very competitive games. We stayed to watch the game for a while, and boy, Mom sure had a nasty forehand!
Of course there's Tai Chi.
And what was a sidewalk became a place to "pump you up!" I don't think I've seen cement weights in a very long time......
And there were those that gave new meaning to the phrase "no pain, no gain", my neck hurt just watching this guy.
By this time, I, ummm, was getting a bit thirsty. We crossed the still only mildly busy street, and headed over to Highlands Coffee. Not much to say about the place, other than the coffee is pretty expensive by Hanoi standards, and was not nearly as good as we've tried in other places.
The best thing about Highlands Coffee, which is situated on the third floor of a building right across the street from Hoan Kiem Lake, is the view. Which even on a hazy morning is quite nice.
Meanwhile, the Missus was preoccupied watching people crossing the street. Her photos don't convey the abject terror struck in our hearts watching first a dog:
Then a Blind Man crossed the street.
We were a bit late with photos and missed the part where about a dozen motorbikes were zooming around the guy. Amazing stuff.
It seems that Hoan Kiem Lake is the venue for weddings, or at least wedding photos in Hanoi.
We saw at least a half dozen wedding parties while walking around the lake. It made for a pretty surreal scene, the Bride and Groom, surrounded by dozens of tourists. So if you're the couple in this photo we apologize, but the Missus and I think you were a beautiful couple. We send you both our best wishes for a long and happy marriage!