City Tour

Trip Start Nov 05, 2007
Trip End Jun 22, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, January 3, 2008

We spent New Year's Eve in Hanoi which was very interesting, since the Vietnamese do not celebrate January 1st as the start of the year. They follow the lunar calendar which makes the start in February. It is hard to believe, but we found a "Jazz Club" about 10 blocks from Hoam Kiem Lake which played great music and was very busy with local Vietnamese (who are getting into jazz) and out-of-country travelers. Just before midnight we walked to the lake and watched a small fireworks display. We went back to the hotel via rickshaw what fun!

Since we have been back to the city, we have visited the "Temple of Literature" which was dedicated to Confucius in 1070 and became a university for the education of mandarins. After graduation their names were placed on stone tablets for all to see. The guide book calls it a "well-preserved jewel" (I think it needed work) of traditional Vietnamese architecture in the 11th-century style.

One evening we went to the "Dao Thuc Water Puppetry Troupe" which gave us a real feeling for traditional art in Vietnam. Puppetry is closely connected to daily rural life of the hard-working farmers in the rice fields.

Next, on our tour was the Hoa Lo Prison Museum (or nicknamed by US POW's-Hanoi Hilton). Two thirds of the original prison was demolished in 1991 to make way for the Somerset Grand Hanoi, a serviced apartment and office complex. The bulk of the exhibits focus on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France (starting in 1883), not very much is shown about the war with the USA.

Yesterday we visited the "Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex" which had a very interesting feeling. In the tradition of Lenin, Stalin and Mao the final resting place for Ho Chi Minh is a glass sarcophagus set deep with a monumental edifice. They take coming here very serious, no photos, no hats, no short pants, and hands must remain on your side. The many guards kept control of the many visitors by telling them what to do in sign language. There is a museum of the history of Ho Chi Minh, his Presidential Place and gardens.

Our last stop was the "Vietnam Museum of Ethnology" which has a very good collection of art and works by the many ethic groups the make-up the country.
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