The day starts early here, often around
5:30 am. Our room is on the ground floor, by the pool and dining room so
we can hear the staff coming in to prepare breakfast, which begins at 6:30.
We explored the city a bit more before our long Oodles of Noodles demo
and meal. We had some time to catch up on our e-mail and computer
work before returning to the Old Quarter to pick up Bill's boots. Nightfall
comes early here and it was dark by the time we headed for the Old Quarter
-- just as the power went off. Some places like our hotel had their own
backup generators, but many of the small shops were scrambling to get their
lantern-type flashlights set up. The lanterns along the streets stayed
lit, so they must have been on another generator. It's a wonder that this
doesn't happen more often as the maze of overhead powerlines is unbelievable!
We found our way to the shoe store, and they had
their flashlights going. They recognized us as we walked along the sidewalk
(what there was available with all the vendors and mortorbikes parked there)
and called us in. Bill had just finished putting on his boots when the
lights came on. The boots turned out great, fitting everywhere as they
were made to do.
For supper we walked to the Streets Restaurant,
connected to the Oodles of Noodles rooms. A couple of the same servers
were working and they recognized us. We were then joined by travelmates
Tony and Lola. While we waited to order, they brought out crispy rice flour
"tortillas" with a peanut satay dip. We then had wintermelon soup - much
like what Sue-On makes except the melon was a firmer variety, and they
added chopped Thai basil... lovely aroma. We also had pork and quail eggs
in clay pot (star anise flavour... most likely a "master sauce"), and cao
lau, another noodle dish in a bit of broth. These noodles are kind yellowish
in colour. Apparently, they burn a special kind of tree, add a bit of the
ashes in the flour to make the noodles. This adds the smokiness to the
noodles. Coconut ice-cream completed the meal.
Walked along the streets down towards the river.
There were still many tourists in the Old Quarter after dark since it's
about 2 degrees cooler after the sun goes down. Motorbikes are allowed
after 9 pm. while during the day only bicycle and pedestrian traffic is
allowed. In the evening, all the locals go home -- on their motorcycles
-- after closing shop. There are lanterns lit everywhere -- very pretty.
There were lots of people sitting outside of the
restaurants, eating, drinking, but the more boisterous parties were across
the river. There was a big traditional junk by the pier, smaller ones,
and one docked being used as a bar. One guy played a guitar, serenading
the couple sitting there.Strolling vendors were everywhere, many of them
selling little toy helicopters propelled by elastic bands. They flashed
with lights as they flew up. Others were selling rub-on fake tattoos, and
more were selling paper lanterns with candles lit inside. People bought
these to sail on the river -- for good luck. That was somewhat different
from the Chinese tradition that Sue-On was familiar with ...a ritual to
remember ancestors. We could only imagine the amount of crepe paper that
must be in that river!