|basket vendor on a bike|
|bird market; they seem to adore tiny little birds in cages. also at this stall: a cat in a cage, which prompted Marc to suggest that the cat was miserable....all those little birds, so close.|
|lots and LOTS of staged bridal photos being taken everywhere. charming.|
|statue of the old emperor who got that magic sword to drive out the Chinese|
|sweet little spa where we got foot massages. may go back there....|
|market stalls -- vegetables and random meats, plus fans. everywhere, fans.|
|night shopping in Hanoi|
We found a little spa where we got delicious foot massages, and then wandered over to the restaurant we'd picked for dinner: Madame Hiên. OH MY. It was as fantastic as the previous night's dinner had been awful. Everything we got was just perfect, beginning with our table in the quiet corner of the courtyard. I started with a green papaya salad with peanuts and dried beef, and then a classic (but kind of fancy) Hanoi street food -- Bun Cha, which is a grilled pork dish with rice noodles and fish sauce and veggies. Even today, while we were driving around Sapa, I was daydreaming about my salad. Marc started with avocado and soft shell crab spring rolls, followed by duck three ways. It was amazing.
The train to Sapa was a little different than I expected. During the night -- the long night -- I kept thinking I was in the back of an oxcart. The beds were quite hard, but that was ok. The ride was not smooth, but starty-stoppy and bumpy. The train seemed to be making the milk run, stopping at every little village to pick up people. And I kept thinking the engine might not make it up the mountains. The train attendant told us, before we closed our door for the night, that he'd wake us about 20 (or maybe 30) minutes before we pulled into Lao Cai, but he woke us when we stopped there, so we had a shocking scramble to dress and leave the train.
|our train compartment -- out the window is the train station|
|the compartment came with 4 room temperature Ha Noi beers -- thanks but no thanks|
|the square was so festive, with lights draping everything|