Sunday 24th August
Shockingly enough after ALOT of sleep yesterday we were up and wide awake by half 5 and had to make ourselves wait for breakfast to start at 6.30. We had nice food down in the bar on the ground floor, and then agreed we simply had to use the pool if we’d chosen a hotel with one. We stopped at Reception on the way to book ourselves onto a city tour that afternoon and then jumped in the rooftop pool. This was about 7.30-8am and it was fairly cloudy (not that we minded as there was no shady areas around the pool) so the water was quite chilly! Not a bad way to wake up actually, we stayed in the water for as long as possible, swimming a lot to keep wa m and when the sun showed its face from behind the clouds we jumped out and dried off. Only to go back in a few minutes later because we were sweating. Haha oh the pain.
Our tour was picking us up at 1pm so about half 11 we showered and went upstairs to eat something. Again, we were really impressed with the food at this hotel – my tuna club sandwich was so juicy and wonderful, mm stomach is rumbling a bit as I type this. God I’m so damn greedy. So the tourguide picked us up at 1pm with a full minibus and our first stop was a Handicapped Handicrafts factory. I thought I’d misheard but nope, it was a lovely place with lots of highly skilled people hand crafting all sorts of things – using wood, laquer, millions of pieces of crushed duck shell, mother of pearl and paint they were making beautiful pieces of art – for anything you can imagine… furniture, jewelery boxes, chopsticks, make up boxes, plates, bowls, huge pieces of artwork to hang on the wall, even shoes! We bought one small picture for the living room.
Next we went to the Independence Palace, which did not look like a palace at all – the front of the building looked like it had bones as part of the design, but that’s just my warped way of seeing it I’m sure… The guide left us here to explore and we wandered through 6 floors of presidential rooms, conference halls, private chambers and bunks underground, that hte president and staff used in the past. After about an hour of free viewing we left and our tourguide walked us through a park with extremely tall trees to their Notre Dam Cathedral and Post Office Centre (it’s a post office, yes, functional but more a tourist attraction now). The cathedral was small and pretty inside but we were more impressed by the post office. It was a really old design with green steel framwork inside and high ceilings, and the tourguide made us chuckle by telling us they don’t really use it much anymore as they have email which is free and faster. Good to know. This actually was the end of the tour and the guide put us in a taxi to return to the hotel, but we got out at the market, which we’d heard about from locals. To be honest, it was just a huge indoor market selling absolutely anything you could want but we didn’t have much money on us and also weren’t really interested in anything – well, I say that but Javi did get another pair of Ray Ban aviators as he dropped his other ones on the eco tour and they smashed. But that’s it. We wandered around for a bit but then decided to make our way back to the hotel.
We chose to walk as it didn’t seem far and we could gauge where we were and where we needed to head using the massive buildings we recognised from being lit up at night. We were on the right path until I spotted a frozen yoghurt place, Yoghurt Space, and made the executive decision of going in. Oh this place was soooooo welcome in my life. It was a self-service style place with 16 different flavours, and you help yourself to toppings and sauce then they weigh it. Simple. And cheap. Dribble… so good. Dammit I write about food a lot.
When we got back to the hotel we had a drink up on the roof just because we wanted to and it was a nice atmosphere up there. I had an amazing mocktail which had peach, mango, passion fruit and something else – so juicy and tart and it felt so healthy drinking it. Pah. We wanted to eat dinner on the street in one of the many many outside kitchens – well actually they’re ALL outside unless you go to a western type restaurant – so we popped round the corner where there was a big set up with a huge barbeque going and lots of locals filling the tables. We were just tucking into our beef and noodles (very tasty and can I just say we’re pretty pro now at eating with chopsticks, think we’ve only used a fork once in the whole time we’ve been here) when a glass smashed on the table next to us and behind one. We turned to look just as you do and a guy had thrown his beer glass on the table infront of his girlfriend/wife and small baby. There was a stare off and we were like, uff that’s a horrible situation right there. Rageful guy on his feet absolutely staring daggers at the girl. There were two guys sitting on the table too and also a grandma next to the girl and baby, who was trying to mop the glass off her lap. We turned back to our food but not for long because he started screaming and shouting at the girl, the poor baby was screaming too and all of a sudden you could see that she was bleeding heavily from her leg, from glass shards I assume. He came round the table to, I thought, have a look and realise what he’d done but the second he was standing behind her he punched her in the head and started elbowing her skull. All she could do was curl over her baby and, way too slowly, the other men started to pull her away. No one laid a hand on the mental guy though. Scary to wonder why not. Someone pulled her and the baby away and she was just coming past our table when he decided to throw a chair at her. Luckily I turned in time to catch the bloody thing as it was coming towards my head but she picked it up and tried to lob it back, still clutching her baby, and then he chased her onto the road, where finally a big hefty lady put her hand on his chest and was screaming at him. We reckon she must have been his relative because still none of the other guys had stepped in. Grandma was trying her best but she was only small and well, old. At this point I’d had enough and was going to walk out but Javi was glued to his seat. All the time I’d been begging him not to get involved but he was almost crying with hatred for theguy, but thank god he stayed put. The girl got on the back of a scooter and someone took her and baby away, finally, while the steaming mad guy, grandma, and the the other men returned to their table to finish their glass-filled bowls. Me and Javi just stared at each other for a while in shock. I pointed out he had spots of blood on his shirt and he found some on his trousers. Wow. Nice.
I don’t need to say I lost my appetite, we paid the bill and returned to the hotel, straight to the roof for a beer. We were in silence really for about 20 minutes, both having never seen anything like that before. Ugh. The hardest thing to accept is that the culture of these people meant that NOBODY helped, NOBODY got up to try and calm the man down, NOBODY whisked the baby away at least for god’s sake – he was in her arms the whole time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had an injury from the glass (or the chair) too. Anyway we tried to talk it out to get it out of our systems and then just went to bed, tomorrow we return to our nice little friendly Hanoi, for our last night in Vietnam.
A tough one today!