Wet and Wetter

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, May 27, 2006

Still lugging round my China Lonely Planet I went and checked round a few 2nd hand bookstores to see what they would offer me for it. Since I bought it new for around $30 in Hong Kong I decided not to hand it over to them for their $2-$4 offer considering they were selling another genuine copy (a rarity to find one amidst the copied versions) for $18.

Tired of staring at books all morning I went for walk down by the lake where I came across around 6 or 7 young Vietnamese girls all wearing ao dai, the national dress, with them all looking so graceful and beautiful strolling beside the lake compared to me no doubt sweating buckets in the heat still.

Since most places here close for lunch between 11:30 and 1:30 I wasted some time before the history museum opened by grabbing an ice-cream from 'Fanny's Ice Cream' shop but don't let the name put you off as it was some of the best I've had in ages. The history museum building itself I thought was actually more impressive than the contents inside it but that is probably due more to my lack of knowledge about Vietnamese ancient history than anything do with the display themselves but suppose that is why I was there in the first place.

Tried of walking I hopped in the front of a cyclo and braved Hanoi's road traffic from a quite literally front row seat. The guy pedaling behind me managed to get up quite a head of steam as we weaved in out of the motorbikes roaring past on either side and somehow managed to not be hit by anything as the traffic would close in around us and at the last moment an opening would suddenly appear and we would squeeze through in one piece.

The ancient art of water puppetry is a unique spectacle in Northen Vietnam so I aimed at catching a performance of it along with Steve from Singapore who I met just outside so we both bought tickets then went for a wander around the old quarter to pass the time before the next show. We came across a couple of interesting streets in our exploring including one selling fake money to burn at Buddhaist ceremonies with heaps of US dollar bills staked up (wonder if that is why the dollar is also an accepted second currency in Vietnam).

The water puppets were much better than I thought and the show was over in what seemed like no time with some really quite imaginative puppets and scenes on show even if we didn't have much of a clue what the story was about but guessing neither did the 2 year girl in the seat next to me who seemed to love it just as much.

As we left the theatre I wondered if the show was still going on since the street outside was flooded with very heavy rain pouring down from another thunderstorm rumbling overhead. Hanging around inside the theatre for almost an hour waiting for the water level to drop enough to leave we saw countless brave souls attempt to ford the river that had formed out front to either (A) fall in or (B) lose their sandles/flip flops and then fall in.
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