Our ‘Hood in Hanoi

Canary 2I just paid our second month’s rent at the Canary Hotel and Apartments (‘The Canary Hotel, I remember it well’…. ) and expect we’re going to stay here the entire time we’re in Hanoi.  We could find another place that’s bigger and with more personality, but we’re close to Somara’s school and we really like the Canary staff. Both Son and Ton, they two key guys at reception have decided it’s also their job to help us learn Vietnamese.  Ton taught me the word for sweat today, Mo Hoi, as I was walked through the lobby dripping wet from head to toe after a workout.

Daily activities are starting to etch themselves into routines and we are getting to know our ‘hood.  I don’t know what to call this area.  Our district is Ba Dinh, but that’s huge, and we live off Lieu Giai, a major artery.  As I’ve said before everything here is layered, including the streets. Each large road, leads to numerous secondary roads, leading to even smaller alleyways.  A lot of times I feel like I’m in a corn maze. I’m still surprized by all the shops you find in the smallest of alleyways. Convenience stores, clothing and a lot of Cafes.Cards and Cong

The Cong Cafe, about 45 seconds out our door has become a favourite. It’s a genuine hangout, a place you can play cards, or just while away an afternoon. On order are fancy coffees, smoothies, beer…I’m there (here) right now drinking an iced lemonade blend. I’d show you a picture but I sucked it back too quickly and now have a freezie headache.

The Cong looks across to the Japanese Embassy, and in the evening people exercise here or bring their kids to ride bikes. Best of all it’s where people come to play badminton.badminton wide

One evening as I was strolling about in flip flops and a sundress trying to get a few photos, a man pulled me into a game of doubles. I was happy to play but then my participation in the game of doubles was protested by another man who told me to go away. He got overruled by the others and then refused to play in that match. I was uncomfortable for about 10 seconds. Perhaps he didn’t think I’d play well enough, I don’t really know what was going on, but I did just fine. My plan is to return in running shoes and shorts to whoop his butt – if he’ll ever engage. Somara and I have been back several times and she’s the one improving the most.  I, on the other hand, sent 3 birdies over the fence onto the grounds of the embassy never to be seen again.

Aroulottend another corner is the Lotte (pronounced LAW-tay) Tower. It’s not just a landmark for us, but for all of Hanoi. At 65 stories, it’s close to being the tallest building in the city. Mostly an office tower, it has a grocery store and some very fancy shops…kind of a cross between Holt Renfrew and The Bay on Bloor. Eventually we’re going to check out the Dim Sum on the 36th floor plus everyone who visits will be treated to the view on the observation deck up top. Perfect for a romantic night out.

door dude


Traffic around here can be crazy, but truthfully, it’s more peaceful than where we were when we first arrived and lived in the Old Quarter. Besides watching traffic can be a bit of an activity as you never know what you’ll see driving by.

Close to the Cong, we’ve found an amazing bakery that makes delicate moist croissants for about 60 cents. I really like the man we buy milk from; his store is so full you can only open the door one way, but it’s spic and span clean and he’s got cheap cheese. I’ve made friends with a few vegetable and fruit vendors, and feel like I’m cheating if I choose one over the other. You can buy virtually anything within 1 km of our place, anything except Cheerios, haven’t found those yet.

Somara’s school Lycee Alexander Yersin is just over a 1km away.  A cab there costs $1.20 but we mostly walk. We’ve discovered a nifty shortcut that winds its way through one of those corn mazes avoiding Kim Ma another major artery. There is still one massive intersection to cross, MASSIVE, and you need to take a special course to work out the traffic signals. And I’m setting myself up for trouble by telling you this, but yesterday I caved and let Somara walk to school on her own.  She begged for a week and I couldn’t take it anymore. Now I need to go home and wait for her to return from school.  I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.




6 thoughts on “Our ‘Hood in Hanoi

  • May 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Sounds like you are having a great time. It looks nice and quiet in your hood compared to where we stayed. I think Somara will be just fine. Glad you are working on your vocabulary. Are you doing any cooking or eating out mostly.
    Moe and Shim

    • May 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Eating out mostly. Stay tuned for posts on our favourites…but remember Tim is the cook in this family and he’s working full time now. I however can do a pretty good green papaya or green mango salad. xo

      • June 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        I love opapaya/mango salad which sounds very much like the Thai salad taught to me by a Thai friend in met in Ghana some ten years ago. I have to come over one day and get me some of yours and if its hot as my Thai friend’s then we can always go for one of those refreshing iced lemonades. Something to look forward to. Stay well and hope you are enjoying the respite from the heat. Thank God for the rains.

  • May 18, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Hello there. It is so great to hear about your adventures. I only wish I were there. David and I are huge fans of Vietnamese food and can only guess how great the real thing tastes. How is Somara getting along at school? Are her teachers English or Vietnamese who speak English?
    I most definitely want to continue to receive your updates, Vietnam is on my bucket list and getting a first hand account is so great. I am not sure how to subscribe to your blog so even a quick note on how to do so would help.

  • May 18, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Played badminton again last night, only sent 1 birdie onto the embassy grounds!

    • June 16, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Hey Sonya, sure sounds like you are living in a real happening and colourful area. I have to really check it out with you on my return from Canada, in September, by which time you would have become a pro at this badminton…keep it up and hope you find that man and give him a trashing…


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