Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey


Our boutique hotel, Maison d'Hanoi, was located in the Old Quarter. As Beam explained, the city planners did not expect to city to grow, so the streets are quite narrow. Add a few hundred street vendors, and pedestrians, and motor bikes, our bus could not possibly drop us off at the hotel. Instead, two porters were waiting at the entrance to the street, loaded up our bags, and we walked a block to our hotel. It is a little gem snuggled in amongst many many small shops, restaurants, bars... definitely in the Old Quarter!

Beam gave us an hour to rest and settle in, then we met for a walk-around and to eat together. It was really sensory overload. Overwhelming crowds!!! We had to have eyes not only on the back of our heads, but on both sides . . . hard to imagine the crowds. There was no such thing as traffic control on these narrow streets... people, motor bikes, bicycles, pedal carts, and cars drive every which way... beep... beep... beep constantly. There was no way to know which street was which. Since we would have to walk by ourselves to Hoan Kiem Lake for the Water Puppet show near the next day, we made mental notes and took photos of landmarks along the way.  It was hard to concentrate on the route though, since we were so busy watching out for our toes, butts, bags...

On the return trek we stopped at a restaurant up a steep flight of stairs. It was run by Chinese descendents. For a starter we ordered fresh spring rolls with caramel beef. It came with a big plate of veggies and herbs, beef, and small rectangular rice paper. Next we ordered sesame coated shrimp and a plate of chicken and noodles which was a bit like Cantonese Chow Mein but more saucy. Others at our table ordered squid, garlicy aubergine, etc. The younger members ordered wine and were planning to spend the night at the bar as five of them were leaving us the next day. 

On our way back to the hotel we experienced the excitement of the Old Quarter again. The district at night is even more crowded than during the day! There were masses of people sitting on low stools out on the street, drinking, eating snacks, and people watching. Hundreds of motor bikes were parked among the throngs along either side of the streets. People were eating peanuts and fried snacks, and cleaners were constantly walking up and down the street, sweeping and picking up garbage. There were women with baskets balanced on a pole across their shoulders, selling waterchestnuts, deep-fried donuts, etc. It was sensory overload a hundred times over! Sue-On commented that you'd have to be damn brave or have nine lives to live in this city! We finally made it back to our hotel and fell into an exhausted sleep... it was a long, exciting day.

Making our way through the crowded Old Quarter to Maison d'Hanoi

Night-time Walk-About through the Old Quarter

Suppertime at Little Hanoi Restaurant

Back to the excitement of the streets


Collage of Hanoi Scenes from the Web




Copyright 2015
Bill and Sue-On Hillman