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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 16: Pure endulgence finale!

It was bound to happen... The last and final day of our Vietnam adventure was bound to arrive. So, with that in mind, I intended to indulge on this final day!  My first stop on my quest for indulgence was "DAISY", a massage parlor I had read about, online, that specialized in hour long foot massages!  I'd never had one, but lord knows my feet needed one after all the walking they had endured!  So, for $6.00, I lounged in a comfy leather arm chair while a darling Vietnamese guy massaged my feet and pounded my calves!
Vietnamese massages include a lot of hitting and punching!  Luckily another lady was 10 minutes ahead of me with her massage, and I saw that the finale would be a head pounding... literally!  He guys was hitting her on her head, all around, and she was cringing!  I quickly said to my guy, "You can skip that part!" Ouch! 

Then it was off to lunch with Aaron for some delicious Hawaiian pizza in an air conditioned restaurant!  We both would have eaten Pho for every meal if it weren't for the heat and humidity!  All you want to do is duck into a place with cold air... so that's what we did!  We joked about how we hadn't eaten this much pizza since arriving in Korea 2 1/2 years ago!  (I think this was at least our 4th pizza of the trip!)  Whatever!

We headed towards the lake, for one last stroll through the tree lined pathways... until that is, we spotted the infamous Fanny's Ice Cream Parlor, (48 Le Thai To) an artsy French-owned ice cream parlor serving upmarket ice-cream in the most original flavors you've ever heard of, like avocado and durian (the nasty fruit that smells like dirty feet) to name a few.  I'd read about this place, and was intrigued by their over the top ice cream creations!  So, after a little persuading, Aaron agreed to some ice cream!  Check out this banana split!  (I had never had one before!)   

Aaron opted for a chocolate alcoholic concoction, with lots of whipped cream! haha 

Our belly's were beyond full, and knew we needed to get out and do some walking, so we headed south of Hoan Keim Lake to check out more of the French Quarter!

This old car was parked outside the famous French colonial-style hotel, Metropole (15 Ngo Quyen Street), where for a mere (insert sarcasm here) $300.00, you can stay 1 whole night!

Gotta love the old men riding bikes through the park!

If I were lazy, which I'm not; or into doing uber touristy things, which I'm definitely not... I would have hired some old Vietnamese man to ride me through the French Quarter on this tricycle rickshaw! 

Good old socialist posters can be seen all around!  At certain times during the day in Hanoi, a city wide loud speaker blasts a Vietnamese woman's voice for a good 10-15 minutes!  Not sure what she was saying, but I'm sure it probably had something to do with their political stand.

We passed by this beautifully painted wall, depicting Vietnam's past and present!

Each street within the Old Quarter specializes in a different sort of merchandise, from silk, jewelry, household items, hemp, clothing, mirrors, cookware, bamboo, lamps, paintings.. you name it!  What's nice is that each street name reflects the products sold on it!  Unfortunately this is only helpful if you understand Vietnamese! :)

Most of these art gallery's aren't just your average print shops! You can actually watch an artist paint you a picture, right before your eyes!  Heck, bring one in, and they'll paint an exact replica for you, too! Talk about talent!

I was beginning to feel a little like these guys, in need of a nice nap!  But since it was our last day in Hanoi, we kept on trekking to make sure we saw as much as we possibly could!
 We stumbled upon this coffee shop on Hang Hanh Street (Coffee Street)!  Vietnam is quite famous for it's coffee... but unfortunately my allegiance lies with Korean coffee sticks, so I left the coffee drinking to Aaron!  For some reason though, he wasn't all that interested in Weasel Coffee (for sale below)!  Never heard of it? Let me take a minute to explain: Weasel Coffee is made from coffee berries which have been eaten and pooped out by local weasels. Why?  I have no idea!  Anyone care to try?!

Instead of indulging in weasel/rodent coffee, we headed up to Highlands Coffee (a different one than yesterday), which boasted a lovely view of Hoan Keim lake from it's 3rd floor balcony!

... and this view of the Old Quarter from the opposite end of the balcony!

We of course ordered some delicious drinks!  Did I not say this was a day of pure endulgence!?

I had bought 2 of these hand made balancing dragonflies for my nephews Caeden and Caleb (love you guys!) back in Ho Chi Minh, but one of them had broke in my backpack along the journey, so I purchased a new one!  I had first seen them on my last trip to Japan and fell in love with their apparent magical balancing abilities, but for $15.00, I wasn't willing to buy one! 
Here though, in Hanoi, they were just a fraction of the price!

You just set their nose on any point... your finger, your own nose, the top of a pencil, a leaf on a tree... anywhere, and they balance! 

 It's quite common to walk down alleyways in Hanoi and see groups of young Vietnamese guys and gals drinking local teas or eating local foods while lounging on the sidewalk!

This guy actually had a whole tea set for himself, as he lounged in front of his cafe.

Our last little excursion of indulgence landed us back at our favorite Italian bistro, near the lake, where we had some dinner and bid farewell to the 5000 year old city of Hanoi!! 

We got to the airport and were told that our flight on Jetatar Airlines to Ho Chi Minh had been canceled and rescheduled for 2 hours later than the original flight (which was BAD NEWS because we had a connecting flight!)  So, we begged and pleaded to be put on the 7:45pm flight (which was almost ready to board) and luckily, a couple people didn't show up, so we were allowed on!  Thank you Jesus!

I spent the first 30 minutes of the flight trying to distract myself (I'm NOT a fan of flying) by practicing my Korean writing!  This was a survey I made for Aaron, where I wrote English sentences with the Korean alphabet!  He then phonetically read them and answered my silly questions!  The guy sitting next to Aaron leaned over and asked, "You can write Hangul?"  Turns out he was Korean!  He got a kick out of reading my questions! :)

After 3 flights, between 7:45pm and 11:30am the next morning, we finally made it back to Busan, and are slowly getting back into the swing of things!  We're sad our vacation is over, but are excited for our next planned adventure!

We will be coming to America at Christmas time... and possibly heading somewhere fun for Chuseok, the 2nd week of September!  We'll see!  Stay tuned! :)

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