Hanoi the second largest city in Vietnam behind Ho Chi Minh City. Both these cities have a chaotic hustle and bustle about them, although Hanoi does not have the mind-boggling number of scooters on the streets. One of the locals told us that everyone would drive scooters here too if it didn't get so cold. We ended up spending nearly a week here catching up on a few things that seem to be easier to get done in a cosmopolitan environment.
We took a little time do a little sight seeing and touristy stuff. Most of our time was spent in the old quarter area. It's a pretty cool area with the old french buildings, roadside food carts and street markets. This was the great place to serve as a home base to explore, everything you could need was just a few blocks in any direction.
One of the main attractions in Hanoi is the Presidential Palace. To be honest, at this point Meggan and I would choose to walk around the streets of a city rather then to go to a popular tourist attraction. It was slammed with people and much of the grounds were roped off causing a corralling effect, not our cup of tea.
We also went to The Temple of Literature, a temple of Confucius which held our attention a bit more. What's amazing about this place is that it is turning 1000 years old this year, it was built in 1010. The temple is filled with ancient statues, an abundance of the color red, water puppets and probably the biggest drum we have ever seen. Our favorite attraction of the day was the Hanoi Cultural Museum. It was filled with fantastic artifacts and ancient art. It also has an outside area that features actual homes reassembled at the museum of all the elasticities of Vietnam.
The evening after our grand tour of Hanoi we went to a water puppet show. This is a ancient tradition where floating puppets on bamboo poles are operated by puppeteers wading in water behind a curtain. I remember seeing all the tour buses outside the theater when we arrived and seriously considered not going in. We had already bought the tickets so we went to the show anyway expecting to find ourselves in a tourist trap. I'm glad we went to the show, it was really outstanding. I don't want to mislead anyone, it is touristy, in fact exclusively tourists spectators, but it wasn't a trap. The show was beautifully done, it was entertaining and gives you a great insight into Vietnamese culture. I suspect water puppet shows have been similar to this one for hundreds of years… sans the theater seating, sound system and lighting of course. The colors and beautiful craftsmanship that go into some of the puppets make them works of art. We wish we could have teleported our two young nephews to watch the show with us, they would have loved it!
- In 2008 we (Meggan and Beau) set out to see the world and start a business. Since then we have visited 48 countries and we’re just getting started. Travel and design go hand in hand. Whether we’re on the other side of the planet, or down the street we always find things to inspire us.