Hanoi Central

Trip Start Aug 04, 2010
Trip End Feb 04, 2011

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Where I stayed
Heather's House

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yahoo....Les is feeling better, he has officially kicked the bug that he has been fighting the past few days and we are back in travel mode.  We set out early this morning to conquer all the sights of Hanoi that we have on our "Vietnam bucket list".

After a quick breakfast of Muesli, yogurt and mini pineapples, we bid Heather's housekeeper (her name is Ha and she is delightful) farewell, we flagged a taxi (we have been told that Hanoi Taxi, CP and Mailinh are the best ones to use).

We started the day at Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum....very strict rules associated with the visit.  Armed guards made sure we didn't take any pictures of Ho Chi Minh, or put our hands in our pockets etc...  Ho Chi Minh looked very real, but there is some talk that it is simply a wax rendition of him.  He will be heading to Russia for maintenance in the next few months.

Right outside of the mausoleum we rented a Cyclo from a man who had an amazing smile...he took us to the Temple of Literature.  The Temple was amazing, it started training students almost a 1,000 years ago.  There were tablets (or stellae) that represented the names each of the doctoral graduates from the temple of literature from the beginning.  It was fantastic to stand in a place that has been around so long and contributed so significantly to the education of the Vietnamese people.

Next stop was Koto, a restaurant across the street from the Temple.  Koto is a nonprofit organization that takes street kids/disadvantaged youth and trains them over 24 months in the areas of interpersonal skills, English language, vocational skills (hospitality) so that if they stick with it and graduate they will find a job in the hospitality filed either in Vietnam or abroad.  They have a 100% placement rate.  We ate a falafel wrap and marinated tofu.....service was terrific, the waiters had impeccable English skills and the atmosphere was delightful.  Lovely and we felt good that we could contribute in a small way to helping this amazing organization.

Bellies full, we sauntered over to "Hanoi Hilton" the prison that all the American pilots were held in during the Vietnam War.  The exhibits were much better than we had anticipated.  The interpretation in the jail started with the French occupation of Vietnam and the detention of patriotic Vietnamese during the early 1900s.  Then they interpreted the Vietnam War and we saw pictures of all the American pilots who were gunned down during the war.  We saw pictures of John McCain having his broken arm treated by Vietnamese  doctors.....all the photos showed American soldiers being treated very well.  The Vietnamese wanted to treat the American soldiers really well so that they would change their mind about the Vietnamese people and shift their way of thinking about the war.  Pretty powerful stuff.
Last stop....the Water Puppet Theater.  I loved the water puppet show, we opted for the more expensive tickets ($3 or 60,000 dong instead of $2 or 40,000 dong).  The best part of the show for us was the traditional Vietnamese folk music.  We saw an instrument that was new to us.  It was a tabular instrument with strings and then a circular stick that she used to control the sound of the strum.  The puppets came out in water to the music....there were men, women and children puppets and a variety of animals including: dragons, turtles, phoenix, fish, birds etc.... This is a traditional art form that farmers used to do in the rural areas in the flooded rice fields.  We really felt like we were getting a good dose of Vietnamese theater, everything was in Vietnamese language.

We then walked to the pagoda (temple) in the middle of Hoan Kiem lake where there is a preserved giant turtle (which are sacred in Vietnam) in a box.  We had a beer at Legends Brewery in downtown, caught a taxi home and will be getting ready for our trip to the Perfume Pagoda tomorrow and Sapa on Thursday evening.
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MommaG & Fresca on

As I view the "Awesome" pictures, Fresca is running around the house like a crazy cat. Ha! Great to hear that Les is feeling better and that you are slowly getting to know the culture of Vietnam. Keep the posts coming.

Lu Anne Faubion on

9/1/10 I have read and enjoyed your travel log and pictures. I wrote a comment but think it was cancelled. SO....all I have to say this is adventure of a lifetime and as I read I am traveling vicariously with you both. I admire your adventurous spirit and the blog is so fun to read and the pictures tell the rest of the story. You two are awesome! Can't wait to see and hear more as you return to Florida. Love, Lu Anne

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