Counting Down New Year In Hanoi (Day 8)

New Year’s eve back in Hanoi. We arrived in the wee hours of the morning pushing through touts at the train station and finally taking a taxi to our hotel. Half asleep we checked in and almost in an instant we found ourselves back in bed until late morning.

Our 2nd last day in Hanoi, also the best time to do some shopping. Dong Xuan market is a 3 storey refurnished building with tons of tiny stalls inside. They sell everything from clothes, to condiments to bags. It’s very much like Pratinum mall in Bangkok. More haggling involved we managed to get some really nice souvenirs at a really good price.

More walking on the streets, we stumbled upon an art shop. In fact there are many art galleries all over Hanoi. Many of the paintings are oil paintings of pictures of ancient Hanoi and Hanoi today. There are also great selections of French influenced art pieces. We were drawn to a particular art shack with a young Vietnamese man brushing some strokes on a canvas piece. The shop had no spotlights or fancy furniture. It was just a bare shop with painting hung on the left and right. Entering the narrow shop and into the 2nd hall, painting covered the right wall while a raised up plank and think mattress filled the other side. Yes, the artist and his young wife stayed in the shop. They made a living by the pieces he drew – some days he would sell 3-4 paintings, while other days none at all.

Attracted by his talent and humbled by his living standards, we bought a few pieces for our home. It was a great bargain and we left the shop satisfied – so did the artist and his wife!

As a New Year’s eve treat, we wanted to book us a place at the famous Bobby Chin Restaurant, Discovery Travel & Living’s food connoisseur. Unfortunately the restaurant was booked out and we had to scout for another. Settling for a hot Vietnamese stir fry meal, we had familiar rice and Vietnamese dishes for dinner at Hanoi Garden, a local mid-class restaurant.

Waiting for the clock to tick 12 to usher in the new year, we headed to Hoan Kiem Lake at about 1030pm. As expected the streets will be filled with motorbikes and people of course. There was also a flower festival around the lake with all sorts of flower arrangements lined up beside the main road. The crowd was unbelievable as people pushed and nudged – getting a breather was difficult. We decided to stay on the quieter side of the lake.

When we arrived there were already vendors and crowds gathered all along the lake. Rice paper lanterns were lighted as it floated into the skies. From afar the lanterns look like balls of fire – quite an amazing sight. We settled in a nearby café to watch the sights and sounds and as it inched closer to midnight we walked across to the lake front. This was how we greeted 2009…

11.58pm – 2 more minutes to go…

11.59pm – the guy next to us says with much excitement “1 more minute!”

12.00midnight – *Silence. Still waiting in anticipation*

12.01am – *Silence. Getting fidgety but still hopeful*

12.02am – *Silence. In total disbelief*

No fireworks!!! How could this be?! Hanoi being the capital of Vietnam simply ushered the New Year in with no grandeur. We were unspeakably disappointed as we strolled back to the hotel with no stellar performance to shout about. Passing a few Caucasians along the way – we saw the same bewildered expressions plastered on their faces – that was some kind of consolation to us as we weren’t the only ones waiting for a big bang!


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oo gosh! I can’t help but laughing in disbelief about your NY’s count down 😀 I have also read most of your Vietnam entry, very informative and you guys are such an adventurous couple. I don’t know how I would react seeing dogs as snacks though 🙁 Great photos too. Did you guys made it to Halong Bay?

Hahaha! Yeah it was a complete let down 🙁 All perked for a stellar NY countdown only to hear crickets chirping in the background!!!

No we didn’t go to Halong because we heard it’s a bit too commercialized. You going to Viet anytime soon? We bought tix to Saigon this year. Can’t wait!

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