Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Night Lights

One of the features that makes Hanoi so colorful and lively is the use of lights throughout the city.  Here are some pics of the lights I photographed on the short walk between Hoan Kiem Lake and my apartment in Tran Quoc Toan. 

Colorful lanterns with Hoan Kiem Shrine in the background

Communist Building

A restaurant on the lake

Lights above night market in the Old Quarter

Street lights

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Obama Sightings

I've been seeing a lot of Obama in Hanoi and have been able to snap a couple of pics of the President.  Apparently, his political prowess has allowed him to be quite a successful salesman in Vietnam. 

Chef Obama invites you to try his Vietnamese home-cooking at this neighborhood cafe.

Make sure Obama looks and sounds his best by purchasing quality media appliances sponsored by the President himself.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Van Tho or Van Gogh?

Kris spotted this painting in a gallery window.  We think it's very funny!  It looks like a Vietnamese version of a Van Gogh, except this one is by Van Tho. 

Vietnam's Got Talent: Singing

Here is the singing portion of the Tet 2011 celebrations at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.  I wish I could have filmed more of the talented singers, but my memory disk was too small to capture them all.  I was able to get two singing acts.  The man in the first video is actually pretty good.  The "talent" in the second video is questionable, but the women look really cool standing in a row with colorful Vietnamese dresses. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vietnam's Got Talent: Dancing

This talent show was performed at Hoan Kiem Lake as part of the Tet 2011 kick-off celebrations.  These lovely dances are versions of traditional Vietnamese dances.  I took the liberty of naming the dances since I don't know the Vietnamese names.  Enjoy!

Lotus Dance

Lantern Dance

Fan Dance

Basket Dance

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Disco Jump!

Disco Jump is an amusement ride in the Dongdaemun shopping district of Seoul, South Korea.  There seems to be no restraints as fun-crazed Koreans are nearly tossed from their seats, recklessly unconcerned about personal safety.  The really funny part is that when the spinning stops, a dizzy rider must stand in the middle of the ring and dance for the entertainment of the other riders.  I didn't catch much of this on video, but it is still worth the watch.

Shop 'Til You Drop

There is a neighborhood in Seoul called Dongdaemun that has some very good shopping.  In the daytime, there is a wholesale marketplace that covers a couple of city blocks with a lovely river running between the blocks.  You can purchase socks, yarn & fabrics, hats, books, shoes...just about anything.  In the evening, this market closes down, but simply cross the street to find several 7-story tall buildings chock-o-bock full of clothing stores.  The giant malls stay open until 5:30 am, so shopping until you drop is, literally, an option.  Coffee shops stay open all night, food is easy to find, and the metro opens soon after the malls shut down.  So, this is a worthwhile and slightly nutty (from sleep deprivation) adventure for tourists (who are small enough to squeeze into Asian-sized fashions). 

Two views of the gate at Dongdaemun

Two views taken in the wee hours from a third-story cafe.

The river running through Dongdaemun has a nice walking path.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Halong Bay

Kris and I took a day-trip to Halong Bay. 

 The trip there was a nightmare.  The 3-hour bus ride took 6 hours on account of the bus driver stopping to flirt with random women on the way.  That, plus the blaring techno which was too loud for carrying on any conversation, made for a long and uncomfortable ride.  Once at the bay, the bus stopped in the middle of the highway and made us get off the bus.  Apparently, the driver was now in too much of a hurry to bother with an actual bus stop. We managed to hail a cab, but the driver went careening down the highway on-ramp, head first into a shiny new SUV, then proceeded to attempt running the cab entirely off the road.  We jumped out of the cab and were able to get two motorbikes to take us to the bay itself.

Once there, it was very easy to find a tour.  As it turns out, it was practically a private tour, with only Kris, me, and two Korean men on the double-decker wooden boat.  Halong Bay itself was serene and lovely and made the day worthwhile.  It was the perfect place to test out the panorama function on my little camera.  The bay featured several giant rock formations jutting from the sea like skyscrapers.  We docked at one formation to tour the huge cave inside.  Then, we cruised to a tiny floating village made up of tiny wooden shacks and decks.  We spent about three hours cruising around the rock formations before heading back to shore.        

A typical cruising boat on Halong Bay

The dragon head of my boat

The huge rocks make the boats look small.

Heading towards the cave

Inside the cave

View from the cave mouth

Floating village on the left

Floating village

Back towards shore

Monday, April 4, 2011


I love this ice cream place called Fanny, located directly across from Hoan Kiem Lake.  It's decorated in Breakfast-at-Tiffany's-esque fashion with neopolitan pink, brown, and cream stripes and Vietnamese girls in pink 50's-diner dresses.  The menu offers several different dishes of thoughtfully prepared desserts.  I have tried a few and plan to go back for more.  Kris thinks the place has a funny name because, of course, eating all that ice cream will give us big fannies!

Top: Banana crepe with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
Side: Vietnamese coffee
Bottom: Five fruit sorbets atop a fresh fruit salad in a waffle cone with raspberry syrup. 

Strawberry ice cream with blueberry, strawberry, and melon sorbets with fresh strawberries, mint, and a chuck of dark chocolate with chocolate sauce at the bottom of the cup. 

Coconut ice cream served in an avocado with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries.

Vanilla and chocolate ice creams with berry sorbet, a chuck of dark chocolate, a white chocolate flower, a pink Pocky stick, and mint atop a bed of fresh watermelon, berries, and dragon fruit salad swimming in chocolate liqueur. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Power Wheels: Cardboard to Carry

Cardboard is actually expensive in Vietnam and quite coveted.  It's about the only thing I've seen that is routinely recycled here.  It's gathered and carted off by motorbikes in towering heaps like this one.