Hoan Kiem Lake

My apartment is approximately a five minute walk from one of Hanoi’s most famous lakes, Hoan Kiem, or The Lake of the Returned Sword. Legend has it that Emperor Le Loi, who was emperor of Vietnam in the mid 1400s, was boating on the lake one day when a turtle emerged from the water, caught hold of Le Loi’s sword and dove back into the lake. The emperor declared that the Golden Turtle had come to redeem his sword, which he had given to the emperor in order to defeat the Chinese. The lake was then given the name it bears today in honor of this event. 

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Today, Hoan Keim Lake is a popular tourist attraction and offers tourists and locals alike a nice place to relax. In the evening, many people come to workout at the lake, either jogging around it or doing push-ups and pull-ups on equipment set up next to the lake. I’ve even noticed a few tourists joining in on the fun! Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures. I don’t think I would want someone to take my picture while working out, but I guess they are in public after all. 

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Tháp Rùa-“Turtle Tower”

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These flowers started appearing a few days ago. It seems like more decorations are added every day. The whole city is gearing up for Tet!

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Ooooh, at night. 

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View of the Ngoc Son Temple and Huc Bridge across the water. 

Random food picture(!):

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Probably not what you were expecting, but I saw this at the grocery store. I think it’s hilarious that the “free gift” that comes taped to your box of Froot Loops is a bag of Famous Amos cookies. MMM SUGAR!

Street Food: Chè

I can’t say I’ve tried out much street food since I’ve been here, and that’s partly because I’m a vegetarian and much of the street food has meat in it. It’s probably time to be more adventurous though!  I have however, been introduced to the world of street food sweets. “Chè” refers to a kind of sweet, soup-like food. There are several kinds, and to be honest I haven’t really figured out the names. The stands are easy to pick out though as there will be bowls filled brightly colored foods.

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From what I can tell, each bowl contains a different variety of chè. There are different kinds of sweet beans, sweet corn, glass jelly, tapioca and fruit as well as coconut milk. Just have a bowl or glass filled with ingredients of your choice and top it off with a bit of crushed ice. My absolute favorite ingredient is lychee, which are the yellowish fruits pictured above.

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As you can tell, this isn’t from the same place as above, but is a much prettier one with ingredients that were chosen for me.

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Mix it all together and enjoy! Yum! Now I’m hungry…

Also, a bit of an update for you…I’m employed! I start tomorrow and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll be teaching English to primary school kids. Yay for having a job!

Since this post was about food, I’ll end with something else. Remember those plastic animals from the night market? Well, I bought one:

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and look what he does!!!

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Definitely worth the 20,000 VND I spent. Oh, and please like my page on Facebook!

Hiking in Malibu

Hikes with great views of the ocean are some of my favorites and Malibu offers plenty of those.  For me, there’s nothing quite like catching a glimpse of the ocean after climbing a steep trail. It makes it that much more worth it. This hike in Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains had some all around great scenery, including those ocean views I so love. 

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Night Markets and Things I Don’t Need

So I first realized that I might have done this a few days ago, but today it’s been confirmed: I left my camera in the U.S. AWESOME. I only moved to another country over 8,000 miles away. Why not leave my camera? Aarg. 

That just means that you’ll have a few more days (weeks?) of iPhone 3 pictures.

I live on an incredibly exciting (busy) street in Hanoi’s city center, in the  ”Old Quarter”, which has been around since the 13th century. At one time, each of the streets’ names corresponded with what could be found on that street. Everything could be bought here: silver, cotton, charcoal, tin, paper, combs, sails. The street I live on used to sell silk, but today it’s better known for selling clothing. The Old Quarter in Hanoi is chaotic, with hundreds of motorbikes, taxis, people selling all sorts of goods and a few tourists here and there. 

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I’ve shown you a similar picture before, but I want to compare day vs night.

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At night, my entire street turns into an open-air, pedestrian only (kind of ) market filled with clothing, shoes, toys, jewelry, decorative items and many other items that I don’t really need. 

The Old Quarter is rather touristy, so I’m pretty sure that’s the reason the night market is held on my street. Makes exploring easier, but it also means the market is fairly overpriced. 

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These are pretty awesome. I’m not sure what I would do with a beaded flower or bear, but I should probably get one. 

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YES. I want all of these. Especially the sheep. I don’t think I can keep myself from buying one next time. 

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This is not actually a stall at the night market, but a nearby shop. Need any balloons? 

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Just for good measure I’ll add a (blurry) picture of food again. I don’t know what this is. It looks like an egg here, but it’s not. I think the base is gelatinized rice and there are croutons. That’s all I know. 

First post!

I decided it was time my blog moved to a different platform and had its own domain name.For now, I figure I’ll keep pretty much the same content both here and on my tumblr, but eventually I hope to primarily just post pictures there.  Any thoughts? The most exciting thing is that you can now leave comments! You no longer need to be a member to leave them. Suggestions and requests are most definitely welcome, and I’ll do my best to meet those. Anyway, here’s to my “new” blog and new adventures! Make sure you tell your friends to check it out!

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I just spent 30 minutes on this post, but Tumblr decided to update itself in the middle of my writing so it didn’t get saved. Annoying.

Anyway, it’s been a productive week, only helped by the fact that I’m awoken every morning at 8am(or earlier) by loudspeakers. My biggest accomplishment has definitely been learning to cross the road by myself(woo!). I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered this skill, but it’s definitely getting there. I’ve also had two Vietnamese lessons. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing well, and other times I just feel like I’m making random sounds (Listen to the Vietnamese alphabet here.) My personal favorite sound is ng, which I don’t seem to have the ability to make. 

I’ve been gathering lots of pictures of tasty food, things sold at markets that I don’t need and some tourist attractions, but I don’t feel organized enough at the moment to create an actual post. So for now, here are some pictures of my apartment. 

I live on the second floor (first floor European) and I have a balcony! Yay! I would say this is a pretty typical house for Vietnam. Tall and skinny. 

This is the first floor/entry way to the building/occasional motorbike parking area. My landlady lives on this floor. 

Sorry this picture is such poor quality. This what you see when you walk into my apartment. 

My kitchen. Still don’t have microwave and I have one less burner than I did last year. I only have one saucepan though so I guess that doesn’t really matter. 

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Balcony that faces another building/”courtyard” with no grass. But I have a balcony! 

Bonus picture: a piece of jellyfish from this jellyfish salad. I didn’t actually try it though, so I can’t tell you what it tastes like!

I’m at my new (temporary?) apartment in Hanoi! So far I can’t say I’ve done much. What I can tell you is that after a night of unrestful, jetlagged sleep, I was awoken by several  entertaining (for now) happenings:

1: A rooster. At 5:30 in the morning. Perfect! I won’t ever need an alarm clock here. I’ve heard it’s better to wake up naturally anyway, though I’m not quite sure whoever said that meant the alarm clock itself should be natural…

2. Motorbikes. I was expecting this. Just take a look at this Google image search of traffic in Hanoi and you’ll see why. For the record, traffic does not last all night. I know this because I was up from about 3:30 to 4:30 this morning (thanks, jet-lag!) and only heard the occasional motorbike. 

3. Loudspeakers. Around 7 this morning, a loud, 80s style Vietnamese song floated in through my window. I’ve read that the loudspeakers around the city give announcements, but I’m fairly certain this was just music. Of course, I guess I wouldn’t know if they were in fact singing the announcements. 

4. A megaphone. Between the melodious sounds of morning announcements, someone was shouting through a megaphone. Once again, no idea why. What’s amazing though is as I’m writing this, someone has started to shout announcements again. Perfect timing! Must be telling me it’s time for bed. Here’s to a night of uninterrupted (that means you, jet-lag) sleep.! At least until the rooster crows. 

I’ll leave you with a picture of my new neighborhood:

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And this:

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Some “fresh tea” flavored mouthwash I found at the supermarket. I’ll have to try that..