Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hanoi to Hue - Rude old ladies!

Our last night in Hanoi ended with food at the 'Lantern Lounge' in the Old Quarter.  We sampled MORE spring rolls and chicken skewers.  Then it turned into something completely different, and I’m not quite sure if it had anything to do with the couple of drinks we had.  We only had two drinks, seriously! But the scotch must have been a free pour and an over pour!  We left the restaurant and heading back towards the hotel and we decided to make use of the massage vouchers that the hotel had given us for the spa around the corner.  

The Spa was called “SF Spa Hanoi Lakeview”, at N0.7 Cau go Lane, Cau Go Street, .  We sussed it out and decided to go for it.  THEN we turned into a pair of ‘misbehaved children in church’.  I don’t know whether it was because the place was so quiet and we just couldn’t bare it after the noise outside in the busy street.  We were ushered into a change room and the giggles started up!   Originally, I have not idea why we were having a laugh and then out came paper undies that were too small even for Sparkie’s skinny bum.  We were trying to strangle the snigger's before we got to the massage room but we got a prompt hurry up from the lady and that pulled us up for a minute.  We were taken into a really old lift and went up to a long room that had rows massage tables in it and no screens from one to the next.  We both looked down the room and saw a white hairy arse crack sticking up from a table towards at end.   Well we just about lost it.  I could have sworn that hairy bum belonged to a bloke and I was wondering what sort of show the place was running.    We both burst out laughing with nerves and the thought of a western bloke being the room and potentially walking out when we were both sunny side up at the end of hour half and hour massage. Incidentally at the turn over to sunny side up point the person was still there and it was then that we realised that  it was not a man but it was a hairy arse cracked woman with long blonde hair.   
I got the full Vietnamese treatment again towards the end of the massage - hair pulling and a few snap jabs to the forehead.  We both got back down to the change room and we were still children giggling about the paper undies.  I decided to stick my bum out and pinch the butt hole area.  However, they were so flimsy I pulled a perfect hole out of the undies and brown eye’d Sparkie.  That’s when the lady came in and asked if we were ok.  Sparkie told them we were just having a laugh. We quickly got dressed and tried to control ourselves until we got back to the spa reception.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast and a hob knob (i.e. network) with the hotel consultant we wandered down to check out a small temple.  There was a lovely old lady with fresh flowers that was making a gorgeous arrangement.  I was trying to take a sneaky shot of her going about her business, she was very good at her job.   That killed the time until we checked out and jumped on the hotel transfer to the airport.  

We had terrible trouble with old women at the airport!  They were pushy and forceful.  We had two sour-pusses push in front of us at the check in line.  They were unbelievable, we took a stand once we found ourselves in a line that had just opened.  It was strategic body positioning - Hips and toes  pointed outwards and bag placement was essential so they couldn’t get near the counter and push in AGAIN.  WE WON!  Then we were off to Hue to meet more pushy old ladies. 

There is a free city shuttle into the main part of town.  We were pointed in the direction for the bus.  Once we got there I jumped on with my pack and to be polite and make room I got back off to take my pack off without the worry of a confined space,  I had intended to stand at the bottom of the step and hand my pack onto the driver to load it up the front and then hand Tanya’s on.   Epic fail in this country!  It’s the quick and the dead!  You snooze you loose!  And he who hesitates most certainly waits!   No sooner as I had stepped back down, another rude old lady parked her cart with about 4 boxes at the base of my feet and pushed around me to get her load on first.  I was left standing with her cart in the way of the door and being completely pushed out of the way by some strategic trolley placement.  She then left the trolley at the bus door blocking my entire path.   I cow kicked the bloody thing out of the way so we could get on the bus.  By this stage I was building a fierce vendetta against old Vietnamese women for the day.  That is as polite as I can manage describing these old creatures!  They were clearly Hanoi locals and very unfriendly.  The further south we travelled the nicer the people became.
We arrived in the middle of town, somewhere! God knows where, and I instructed Sparkie to wait as long as possible to get off the bus because our packs were inconveniently on top the rude old ladies boxes and I intended on making life as hard as possible for her.  So we waited on the back seat of the bus like a pair of belligerent teenagers.
Then we were off like pack donkeys to find the hotel.  We got up the street and the nice bus driver stopped us, (central country folk are much nicer people), and asked if we knew where we were going.  He confirmed for us that we were heading in the right direction towards the river.  Sparkie had prudently studied the lonely planet and found the most strategic path to the Imperial Hotel, in Hue.  We wandered around a few streets and walked by a primary school.  The kids must have been on a lunch break, they went nuts outside and walked along the fence with us with huge smiles and curious attitudes.  They were excited to see us.  

It was the usual check in process with Sparkie throwing around the business cards and asking for a tour of the hotel.  We had a executive suite on the 14th floor that overlooked the city side and the school we’d walked past.  Once we’d gotten up to the room we both fluffed around on the Internet checking emails and Facebook.  Sparkie was a bit cagey during the afternoon and she had hinted about something, then wouldn’t let on what it was.  Then all of a sudden Sparkie goes, “Oh shit, get off Facebook, you’re not allowed to use it until later”.  Then she made a mysterious call to what could only have been a reservation at a restaurant.  What I found ‘smirk worthy’ was that she made the reservation for “Tan”, which intrigued me because in this country there was potentially a couple of existing reservations in the name of “Tan” already at the restaurant.  A bit like ordering takeaway pizza under the name of Smith on a Friday night.
All was revealed a few hours later when Sparkie and I got dolled up and had a date night.  It started a little more hyper vigilant than I would have liked.  Let me explain - the bellhop looked after us and ordered us a cab to the restaurant, which by this stage I’d found out its name “Les Jardins de la Carambole”.  For about three bucks we were driven across the river and past the Citadel and its long surrounding moat.  We turned off the ring road and into a VERY dodgy street.   I fixed a glance on a strange smiling bloke standing on the side of the road doing the eagle eye on our cab.  Then the cab slowed down, at which point I was a bit concerned and ready to bash someone wearing a skirt if I had to.  Then all of a sudden I realised there was a mass of light coming from my left.  I looked to my left and there was a double storey colonial style house that was lit up like a Christmas tree in purgatory.  Seriously the dodgy street did not match what I was looking at.  And that my friend  was Les Jardins de la Carabole Vietnamese and French cuisine restaurant.  Two of the staff came to meet us.  As it turned out the dodgy smiley bloke worked there as well.  They all helped us inside and they were fantastic.  We were taken upstairs to the balcony, which was likely to have been the coolest spot.
Dinner was amazing, we had Salmon Capreito, Crab soup, Betel soup, Duck and lemongrass and of course spring rolls. For dessert we had chocolate mousse and creme bruel and coffee.  During dinner we shared the restaurant with two other couples and a young family, who were all french.  The other couples appeared particularly arrogant and you could really tell in behaviour towards them from the staff.  What I wasn’t expecting was that the staff would favour us on the floor and we actually got better service.  During dinner the staff pointed both of the pedestal fans on the balcony in our direction and away from the other couples.  We’d seen one bloke turn food back to the kitchen because he wasn’t quite ready for it yet and their general demeanor was pretty dismissive of the staff.  Teach them for being total dicks, we got the fans!   The staff doted on us during the night and by the end of it we were stuffed like a roast chicken.  We decided to walk off the four course dinner via the exceptionally dodgy street,  the Citadel and back across the bridge.  Hue is quite city at night time and very pretty.  It was a really warm and still night, of course there were still a few motorbikes buzzing around.  It could have been because we were in an off peak season but it was a calm place to be.   

Indiana Jones and his lady cross here apparently!

Research trip by -

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