best Hanoi hotel...
Heading to Hanoi?
When I was there I stayed in the old quarter across from
the Red River Cafe at the Fortuan Hotel (68 Hang Bo Street).
I found this spot relatively quiet and cheaper than most
others in the area. There's lots of good places to eat
along that street, as well as good shopping and close
proximity to the lake, post office, Internet places, etc.
Expect to pay in the vicinity of $US15-20 per night --
some rooms even have a balcony for the price. Ed.
note: While a balcony sounds wonderful, be
very careful. Make sure that your room is on a high enough
floor so that an intruder can't break-in via your spiffy
veranda. Contact: Contact: Tel: 84.4.8281324 Fax: 84.4.8281323
Beth, Toronto, Canada
Vietnamese language is both very difficult and very easy.
It has six different tones, each indicated by an accent
mark. "MO" spoken from low to high means something completely
different from "mO" spoken from high to low. In fact,
depending on which of the six tones used, "ma" can mean
ghost, mother, which, tomb, horse, and rice seedling.
As you might imagine, there are some very funny (and some
not-so-funny) travellers' tales of pronunciation miscommunications.
But once you get the tones, you'll find the grammar is
very simple. Plus, the language is not written using Chinese
characters but the Western Roman characters.
(Source-Lonely Planet Vietnamese Phrasebook, by Nguyen
Xuan Thu )
begging children in Vietnam...
recently spent 5 weeks in Vietnam and learned
that begging is an industry that often benefits abusers
and their many "Oliver Twist"-like scams. Women carry
sleeping infants plaintively telling tourists that the
babies are starving or sick. Yet, this is most often not
the truth. I found out that these infants are usually
not their own children, and they might be drugged with
sleeping pills or alcohol so they will appear weak and
unresponsive. If you want to do something about child
poverty in Vietnam, I recommend Saigon Children's Charity,
a group that sends impoverished children to school by
providing tuition, 10 kg. of rice/month, and useful school
supplies. At least by donating to this organization I
know that the money will be used to benefit children;
I believe this group is honest and above board. Their
website is at: http://www.saigonchildren.com.
Linh Lam, Los Angeles, USA
as soon as you enter any of the big cities in Vietnam,
you'll be faced with a bevy of street hawkers vying for
your attention and American dollars. Like in any city
in Southeast Asia, haggling is the name of the game. Make
sure you compare prices. For me, I couldn't resist buying
a domed straw hat-something I never used, paid too much
for, and ended up throwing out before I got on the plane
out of Hanoi. It was too awkward to carry and was not
a collector's item by any stretch of the imagination.
Live and learn! However, I did end up buying some gorgeous
stuff in Hanoi. I left laden down with beautiful handicrafts
and fabrics and I now count among my prized possessions
the following items...
- A tailor-made Chinese silk dress in the most
beautiful purple-brown and gold pattern. $10 USD.
- A foot-long hand-crafted Chinese water-puppet--yellow,
green, and gold wooden fish in three sections.
I love my fish! $3 USD.
- A hand-embroidered white cotton Queen-sized
sheet and pillowcase set. A classic for $5 USD.
- A hand-painted wooden compass, seen in all the
souvenir shops. I paid $5 USD on my first day,
but I later saw them sold for less.
- An embroidered shirt handmade by hill tribe
women. $2 USD.
( Source: Karen Dougherty, Toronto, Canada)
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