Sacha and I went out for beer and street donuts in Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, and started researching for our trip to Halong Bay. Then, even though there were 20 beds in our long skinny dorm at Asia Backpacker Hostel, the room was surprisingly quiet and we had a good sleep.
In the morning, walked around Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is a major scenic spot in the historical center of the city. It serves as a focal point for public life with people strolling along the many pathways, selling food and just relaxing by the lake. We just appreciated the Turtle Tower in the center of the lake from a distance; we didn’t want to pay to see another pagoda.
We visited the Hoa Lo Prison Museum which was very interesting! They had some of the concrete sewers that some of the Vietnamese prisoners escaped from. They looked very tiny and I know Vietnamese people are generally smaller, but it’s hard to imagine how they fit through. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The way they were treated seemed pretty terrible. The museum also had a section dedicated to the Americans. It had photos of them celebrating Christmas, playing sports, working and smiling. I realized these were photos of the American prisoners. How come they were treated so differently?
The next day was a day for SHOPPING! I bought a bunch of souvenirs that I planned to send back home. After I bought some coffee at one shop, the man asked us if we would like to do a free Vespa tour of the city. What’s the catch? He said he has one tour company but is trying to get another one off the ground. All he asked for was a review on Trip Advisor. They picked us up for the hostel a little while later and drove us around stopping at the Opera House, Crossing a couple bridges over the river, past the ceramic wall, another pagoda, West Lake at sunset, Ho Chi ‘s Mausoleum (it was closed because his body is in Russia being re-preserved), then to the site where the last American helicopter was shot down during the Vietnam war. It still sits in a tiny body of water right outside a primary school. We made it back in time to write out a positive review of our experience and made it to the Water Puppet show! A very traditional piece of Vietnamese culture. It was better than expected!
We made it back in time to write out a positive review of our experience and made it to the Water Puppet show – a traditional piece of Vietnamese culture. It was better than expected! There was a small pool in the theatre and the puppeteers hide behind a screen. There is a live band along with singers on the side of the stage. They included humor in the show and I think it was very well done. I guess the history of these shows is that people worked long hours in the rice fields and some people started doing puppet shows to help pass the time and keep people entertained!