<div align=”justify”>We reached Hanoi yesterday. To say that the weather is cooler than Jakarta, is an understatement. Man! we were shivering the moment we landed here. We had checked the temperatures of Hanoi for couple of days before leaving Jakarta and it kept on showing that weather was around 16 – 17 degree celcius. Even AC regulator starts at 18 degrees. Since the latest hill station we had been to was Mahabaleshwar (which they should not call hill station anymore), we were way too far away from estimating accurately how cold this place would be. Trust me, the place is really COLD. At nights the weather must be getting even colder…
Anyways, we moved on to check in into this hotel located in the central market place of Hanoi. It took us a while to adjust to the climate and we were outraged to notice AC in our room. With climate like that who needs AC!! Though soon we discovered that the AC does not act simply as AC, its a heater too. There is ‘Heater’ mode and you can actually warm up the room – warm air and all :). Ever since, the life has been easier in Vietnam, with room temperature constantly at 25 degrees. In the evening we went to meet couple of Swapnil’s friends and discovered that this is springtime in Hanoi ( Ha Noi is how they actually say) and the weather is in fact colder during December -Feb period where it can drop below 10 degrees.
Since I mentioned the outing with Swapnil’s friends, I must mention that they took us yesterday to this authentic Vietnamese restaurant and later on to a cafe. Food in Vietnam as in most of the Asian countries means – MEAT and in varieties unimaginable in India. Needless to say, this is always a problem for the both of us, since both of us are vegetarians. We have to order food that is ‘No egg, no fish, no chicken, no beef, no mutton, no meat’ . Even after saying this 10 times, there is no guarantee that they will serve with such food. So always Swapnil is the ‘taster’ and I eat only after he ‘passes’ food as meat free.
Few comments on Vietnamese Food that we ate – BLAND. We ate rice noodles with tofu and some random herbs, veg dumplings, some weird looking veg rice with corn and a salad. Rice noodles had to be eaten with tofu and after dipping into some odd looking sauce. The sauce wasnt exactly soya sauce. For all I know, it could have been some nonveg sauce too – but I would prefer not thinking that (Ram ram raam raam. Dharam bhrasht ho gaya etc etc). The whole Asian culture is based on nonveg. They dont understand the concept of ‘Veg’ food. Many a times, though you explain to them literally 10 times, they can make mistakes – because a)Either they dont understand how can someone order without nonveg b) they conclude that the order karnewala doesnt understand what he / she wants c) some dish may have minute nonveg element which they have forgotten to remove. Eg – Soups have liquid stock which usually has nonveg element in it and it is difficult to explain to them to make fresh stock with vegetables. So I ensure a) Not to order if they cant understand my order b) Make Swapnil taste it first.
Anyways, time to go for lunch now – Mehenat ka kaam hai woh . Lot of time will go now, to explain to them what we want.</div>