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Friday, January 22, 2010

HANOI: DAY 1


It has been raining, continuously, since my plane arrived...and this is supposedly the dry season.
As the French were influential in the cuisine of Vietnam, Curtis Lee and I went to lunch at Verticale, a French-Asian fusion restaurant. The Asian part, though, is something close to Indonesian and Indian, with dominant herbal smells The set menu of an appetizer (beef soup was okay), beef dish (horrid) and dessert (hard to describe and passable) came with a glass of red wine...all for $13.50. As it was raining, we caught a taxi, and paid a dollar for the one mile ride. In Japan, the charge is $7 when you step into the cab.


Dinner was in the hotel (Metrople) at Angelina, an Italian steakhouse. Kerry Noyes and Joe Kapolka from Minnesota joined us, and we learned a lot about banking and that state. The T-bone was barely tolerable, but the service and side dishes were excellent. A glass of wine cost $15, more than the entire lunch plus cab ride. The food was part of the tour. This morning for breakfast we sat next to Claudia Taden from Santa Barbara. We are the only singles in the Tauck group of 35. My sense is that the the average age of the tour is somewhere in the 70's.

Today, we are off on a cyclo (kind of like a Bangkok tuk-tuk) tour of Hanoi, with stops at the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake and the dreaded Hanoi Hilton (where John McCain suffered). The high today will be 60 degrees F, but the falling sky seems to be diminishing.

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Well, the Dow Jones Industrials again sunk, 217 to 10,173, a three day drop which was the worst since March of last year when the market hit a 12-year low. However, the DJI, even today, is 57% higher than that bottom. Now, if this correction can settle at 9500, it might begin to be a good time to buy. Gold slipped a buck to $1092/toz and oil eased below $75/barrel.

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