(Note: This isn't letting us add photos to this post for some reason, so we're going to post without and try to post the photos on their own. Hope it works)
It's Saturday morning here in Hanoi, and we're ready to hit the town. Not sure what our plans are--maybe the Temple of Literature (sounds right up my alley) or just another walk around the streets, shops, and markets of the Old Quarter. But we're feeling energetic because last night all three of us slept the best we have in days. Oliver went to sleep at 8:20, woke up once at 10:40, and stayed asleep until 6. After the restless nights we've had, we were thrilled. He seems like he's not as scared or freaked out as he has been the first few nights. So today he's full of smiles and energy.
Yesterday we took him out for a walk around the Old Quarter. Every street is filled with shops. Every single square inch, including people selling stuff on the sidewalk. And most streets specialize in one thing and are named that way. Silver street (Hang Bac), Basket street (Hung Bo), Silk street (Hung Dao), etc. Most of these names are traditional, but there are also streets that sell toys, plumbing supplies, art, spices, cheap clothes, etc.
Oliver had a good time. We went to Hang Bong, which is know for its art galleries. Vietnam has a pretty well respected art scene. After a while, Oliver got hungry so we sat down on the street to feed him a bottle and I realized that I had forgot his bottle liners. Mom shook her head, but smiled. So all three of us jumped in a TukTuk, one of those bicycle-driven rickshaws. The young guy pedaled us all over town to find a bottle, all for like three dollars. We made Ollie one and sat at a small Bun Cha place to have lunch.
Lunch, like all the food we've eaten, was great. The Vietnamese are big snackers, and everywhere you look there are people selling street food, cooking on charcoal cookers or open burners with big pots and serving their one specialty right there on the sidewalk. There are also lots of women selling baguettes, fruit, and drinks. Most of the women carry their wares in baskets hanging from a bamboo poll that they carry across their back. And they wear the traditional conical straw hat.
Bun Cha is a very popular Vietnamese lunch. It's grilled meat, served in a bowl of nauc cham (a mix of fish sauce, lime juice, grated carrot, chili, garlic, and sugar), and served with cold rice noodles and salad greens, cilantro, and mint. Our place was typical: we sat on tiny, low stools (the Vietnamese are very comfortable squatting) at small communal tables. The waitresses and cooks were very friendly, and they loved Oliver. The people here love children. They all ask if Ollie is Vietnamese, ask his age, and fool with him, even the men. The women in our bun cha spot actually scooped Ollie up and help him while we ate. And they cleaned his face--guess we didn't do a good enough job wiping the cookie off of his face.
Ok, time to hit the town. We'll try to post again, with new pics and more orphanage pics from Grandpa's camera.
Tony and Leigh