I have been in Hanoi for two days now and I can say that's enough. I did a self-guided walking tour of the old quarter and found it to be not much of a tour at all. All of the sights were either impossible to find (we went down two random alley ways, at the advice of our guide books, only to wander into people's homes) or closed. Not as much fun as I would hope a walking tour would be. Then, we had dinner with a friend and his fiance, which was good.
Today, Megan and I did the museums, including paying our respects to Bac Ho (a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh). Then, we did a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, which was nice, but no one was there. Then, a tour of the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which, frankly, was much more propoganda than I could handle. In the afternoon, we headed to St. Joseph's Cathedral, which is the cutest neighborhood in town. It's old, with nice boutiques, and has the feel of a neighborhood (no other part of Hanoi or Saigon has this feeling). We had dinner at this street stall that sold some deep fried goodness, the contents of which I could not make out.
Then, on a typical cyclo ride we go! We took a cyclo through the old quarter for an hour. I'd have to say that the old quarter is much prettier at night - maybe it's the decrease in hawkers and you don't really see all the grime of the city. We wanted to find some bia hoi to finish off the evening, but as is typical, when we were looking, we could not find it. Oh well.
Tomorrow morning, we head out to Halong Bay and I'm stoked. I'm tired of being in a city and tired of people trying to sell me something. I need to just chill, relax, and lay out - which is what Halong Bay is for. It's our one indulgence on the trip, as we're going on a 3 day, 2 night tour on a luxury boat. So, forgive me if I don't update in the next few days (other than to update on where I matched).
Oh, I have to add a note on the northern Vietnamese accent - specifically, that I cannot understand it. For people who don't speak Vietnamese, it's hard to imagine how two people speaking the same language cannot understand each other. However, for those who speak Vietnamese, it's easy to understand. The north has different words for things (kind of like "soda" and "pop") and they pronounce nearly every consonant differently than the south. I have spent half the time talking to people here asking them, "Can you repeat that?" or "What did you say?". It's really annoying. And I know that my Vietnamese isn't that good, so that just adds to the fun! I'm definitely not saying one is better than the other - just that it's very hard for a southern girl in the north.