Hanoi – Friday 21 November – day 29

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Get me to the church on time.

Another quiet day. It’s been very smoggy today, not hot or cold or wet, just smoggy and grey. We’ve had marvellous weather right through this trip and this is no different, cool, dry and pleasant.

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See what I mean? There’s just a constant stream of things comin’ at ya, wrong side of the road or not. Jan says just ignore them and walk confidently. Yeah, easy to say.

The food is nice but my taste buds seem to demand chili and spices these day and I’m not getting them. I’m finding the food bland. It’s not that it’s bad, not at all, it’s just Vietnamese food, and although you get a little bowl of dipping sauce, I want chili and I can’t seem to make them understand.

I ordered a starter and a main last night but the starter, fresh (ie non-fried) spring rolls never arrived. That’s OK, I always regret ordering too much. Their gin and tonics are $4 approx and seem to be about 50/50% gin and tonic. Aaaah.

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Buildings seem stacked and stacked. Considering this is a flood plain and the freeway to the airport is a dyke … wait until I’m outa here.

We’re off to Bali tomorrow, leaving here at 1045am on Vietnamese Airlines to Singapore, then a three hour wait until a Singapore Airlines flight to Denpasar, getting in about 9pm. It’ll be a long day. Jan meditates, so he’ll be OK in Singapore airport.

We’re staying at a beach hotel up near the top end of Sanur, the Puri Kelapa. We’ve got separate rooms again. Five weeks of sharing a cabin and rooms for two guys who like a bit of solitude. No problems, though.

I spoke to my cousin here about the chest infection he’s had for 6 weeks. It’s streptococcus F apparently, and requires a specific antibiotic. I don’t know the name yet but I hope I’ll be able to obtain some in Bali. On the other hand, I’m already taking the a/b the doc gave me last Monday so I’d better not meddle.

Jan’s arranged hotel transport to the airport at 0730 tomorrow for US$19 for the two of us, so that’s good value. Up at 0600.

Hanoi – Thursday 20 November – day 28

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Making headstones

The woman above is painstakingly using a scalpel to remove pre-cut sections of the white plastic film on a blank piece of stone/ The sections are in intricate patterns and lines which form the decoration on the gravestone. A photo of the deceased person is put in the middle and sealed with a plastic cover. You can see examples in the background. I assume the stone is acid etched in the areas where the film has been removed.

I watched her for a couple of minutes and she ignored me, even when I took this photo. But when I moved off she tried to grab my attention as if to want to sell me one of her headstones. Aaaah, no thanks, not right at this moment.

Hmmm, a very quiet day today. I’m still suffering a bit with my chest infection and minor tummy rumbles, enough that I didn’t want to go out.

To be honest I’m travel fatigued. This place is fantastic, as I’ve said, but walking on the streets is so difficult and hazardous that I’m afraid to do too much. The footpaths are clogged with bikes so you have to walk on the road, and the rushes of air as another car of scooter goes past put the wind up me, so to speak.

As well, the constant importuning to buy something is like Bali in the old days, except this is high density and high intensity.

Last day tomorrow.