I could spend a fortune here. Everywhere I look, I'm tempted by silk dressing gowns, hand-embroidered jackets, exquisite handbags...this place is dangerous.
And with no one to restrict me, I somehow ended up laden down with bags of shoes, bags and purses to bring home. Oops.
So that was my next morning in Hanoi. I stopped off on my way around the shops for some kem (ice cream) from a shop heaving with locals - apparently in summer the queues (or rather, masses - the Vietnamese don't do queuing) spill out onto the street.
The magnetism of the beautiful opera house area once again drew me in, and I had lunch at an absolutely magnificent hotel, whose restaurant, Cafe Lautrec, was one of the most splendidly decorated spaces I have ever eaten in. And as for the food - a dreamy salad buffet, with all-you-can-eat oysters, lobster, sushi, cheese, bread (of the Western variety! Hooray!), followed by desserts...pure indulgence, but utterly delicious.
I staggered back to my hotel and was met by a member of Hanoikids, a group which offers free tours of Hanoi. My companion was studying public finance at university here and gave me a fantastic tour. We started at the Temple of Literature, where the offerings left by visitors included towers of Coca Cola cans, bottles of vodka, Oreo cookies and cigarettes. Now THAT sounds like an afterlife...
We then visited the market and more of the sprawling streets of the Old Quarter, including a stop at a shop selling weasel coffee, where I drank the best cup of coffee I've ever had, prepared in the tiniest kitchen I've ever seen by a woman juggling making sales to about five different customers at the same time. Despite being rushed off her feet, she later brought us some dried lotus seeds, which are supposedly meant to make you sleep well. They obviously work - we walked back to the hotel and I had an hour-long nap!
In the evening I went out for yet more bargain hunting, only to discover that the dresses I'd been admiring in a shop window earlier were now being modelled by real Vietnamese women...time to call it a night, I decided.