As I mentioned last week – I have started Vietnamese lessons. I did not realise quite how difficult this would be! Granted – I can only now count and do all the numbers and introduce myself and do the polite how are you? I am fine etc (oh and of course ask prices and complain that thing are too expensive and ask for discount – ha ha taught in first lesson). It is a really complicated language – not only are there 6 tones (the lilt in the voice as you say the word which dramatically changes the meaning e.g. cho means give if said with no tone BUT put a little lilt to it and it means dog!!) but when you are talking to someone the terms change depending on the age of the person in relation to you!! Oh and each vowel also has a few different sounds depending on the notation above it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But I will get there – I am determined. Fortunately we have our lessons in a Highlands coffee on one of the lakes which is really spectacular.
Today our sightseeing trip took us on a 16km round trip across Long Biên Bridge (in Vietnamese Cầu Long Biên). Long Bien Bridge was built over 100 years ago as a link over the Red River between Hoan Kiem and Long Bien in Hanoi and is 1.68km long. The Red River connects Hanoi to the coastal town of Haiphong.
We were able to get to the bridge via a side alley to the main road – which is just as well as the traffic is manic. The bridge itself is only for bikes (motorised or not) and each direction is separated by the railway line that runs in the middle carrying cargo and passengers. It is a lovely cantilevered bridge that has stood up to a pounding especially during the Vietnam war – but has been repaired and is very much in use.
On our way across we had a spectacular (NOT) view of lightning at the other side – which terrified me. But fortunately when we got over we found a lovely little coffee shop to wait out the storm before heading back again.
Our route home was slight more interesting as we could not cross the main road to get back to our side ally (mainly due to there being 8 lanes of traffic which we were not brave enough to tackle on our bikes) so we did a little “adventure” though Old Quarter.
Of course we rewarded ourselves with a little Bia Ha Noi when we made it back to Tay Ho.
We finished the day with a trip to Street Sushi – a real street restaurant (car wash by day Sushi by night) – a real experience of local life – there were only a couple of westerners besides us. A meal for 4 of us including 7 beers and 2 cold drinks , 3 prawn sushi platters , 1 salmon platter and a fired chicken (yes at Street Sushi) was ₫ 400 000 (equivalent to R220) – bargain of note!
Next week we will be heading off to Dalat (Southern Vietnam) and Hoi An and Danang (Central Vietnam) for 10 days!