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Trip Report hanoi, luang prabang, siem reap trip report

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we just got back from a 2 week trip, feb 21 - march 8. we flew a combination of airlines, taking united from chicago to la, then asiana from la to seoul & on to hanoi. i know it's a longer route, since you can find flights from chicago to asia without going to the west coast of the US, but this saved us more money than we ended up spending on our hotels for the 2 weeks :)

asiana airlines was fine on the way there - good leg room in each row. & with a partially empty flight, we had space to lay down & sleep. we got to hanoi around 11 pm, & we were picked up by a driver arranged through our hotel. we stayed at the hanoi elegance 2, & for $55 a night, it was a great hotel. for a $25 fee, they arranged our visa on arrival, which we got at the vietnam airport. the rooms were nice, with a computer & internet access in each room, little sample sizes of shampoo, etc. the breakfast was also included, & was great. you could get fresh fruit juice of a variety of fruits. eggs made to order. the baguettes were fabulous. or pho (chicken or beef) - which was also quite good. staying in the old quarter was also great.

we spent most of our time in hanoi just wandering around town. made a couple of trips to hoan kiem lake - including going at sunrise one morning. it was great to watch all the people exercising & doing tai chi.

as for food - we used the website savourasia.com to help with some ideas. i'll get into those soon.

we checked out a lot of the main hanoi sites -- ho chi minh museum, temple of literature, french quarter, st. joseph's cathedral.

we also took a day trip to halong bay. nice, but not super impressive. i don't know if it was because it was rather overcast on the day we went, but i'm glad we opted not to do an overnight trip & just used one day.

we did a lot of shopping in hanoi also - got some great silk. we bought a duvet cover & matching pillow cases for our bed, some silk pillow covers for the sofa pillows, & 4 paintings that we had packed & then took to the post office & mailed to ourselves. (we didn't want to have to figure out how to remount the canvas, so we shipped them whole).

we also did a cooking class through the old hanoi restaurant in the old quarter. we had looked into a couple of options, this one was close to our hotel & only $23 a person. we did a little tour of the market, & then made a 4 course meal, which we got to eat for lunch. we ended up being the only 2 people in our class. it was really fun, & we did make ourselves quite a good lunch!

our first day for lunch we ate at quan an ngon.
http://www.savourasia.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=60
it was great. we sampled so many different food options. it was fun to just walk around looking at the food & different stalls, & then sitting down to order. we saw more locals than tourists in this place during the our + we were there.

another place we tried was adidaz - a vegetarian restaurant. (found it also on savourasia) not for tourists at all. we were the only tourists there. the waitstaff didn't speak any english....i attempted to order diet coke & ended up with soda water :) but the food was good. & if i recall correctly, the menu was in english.

we did hit up the sofitel chocolate buffet & high tea - which ended up being our dinner for our last night in hanoi. i loved it! & we weren't able to finish all the cakes that came with the tea, so they boxed them up for us. which was perfect, since we had to leave for the airport to early for breakfast the next morning.

another place that we enjoyed was KOTO (know one teach one). they are training people to become chefs, waiters, etc. so the service is a little slow, & there's a chance that your order might get confused, but they try really hard. it was very close to the temple of literature.

it was also fun to stop at highlands coffee overloaking hoan kiem lake for a beer.

more to come later.

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