Hanoi

Day 59 / Day 18 of ATID – Hanoi

We travelled (you don’t need me to say how by now – private bus, obv) to Hanoi in the morning/early afternoon and after check in all headed on a bit of an orientation walk with our tour facilitator, which ended in a very yummy lunch at a little street-side restaurant of  ‘Bún chả‘ (grilled pork and noodles and soup!), which I loved. Most of us then went and got tickets for an early evening water puppet performance…more on that in a moment.

After this, most of us grabbed a taxi to a museum that our tour facilitator had recommended to us as an excellent one – the Ethnology Museum. It was an aesthetically pleasing museum to wander around with inexpensive entry, and had a lot of information and displays pertaining to all the different ethnic groups present in Vietnam (always with English translations), and an outdoor part with lots of traditional houses that you could actually go up into and explore. We quite enjoyed it, especially going round the outdoor houses!

We returned to the main town via taxi to attend the water puppet performance, which was pretty good fun, the stories were easy to follow (we got a program in English as well which helped immensely) and at one stage what looked like fireworks were involved. Not necessarily an essential in Hanoi but definitely an entertaining way to kill a few hours! Tickets are priced according to where the seats are, and I’d say just get the cheapest ones as the theatre is quite small and it makes little to no difference. Oh and I was silly enough to think the water ‘stage’ was outside…it isn’t! Er, the only thing we didn’t enjoy, mind, was some of the loud, loud kids (and I love kids and don’t mind them enjoying a show, but this was very excessive and half the time seemed totally unrelated to the performance! So yeah…). Reprimanding your kids for being excessively vocal during a performance did not seem to be a ‘thing’, at least we didn’t note any parents trying to during this show…maybe we just got unlucky.

After, we went and got some dinner at another street-side restaurant, one of the sorts that sprawls into the street. There are lots of these in Vietnam, especially Hanoi. The only exciting thing to note is that I ordered veggie spring rolls but they took what felt like years to come out (this I do not really mind, esp given the guys at the restaurant probably had about one stove and we had entirely taken over their tiny place) and then when they did I wolfed them down only to realise towards the end they weren’t veggie at all. Er, testimony to my hunger and exhaustion, I think!

Also note – the traffic in Hanoi is EVEN WORSE compared to the rest of Vietnam – it feels like you’re playing a little game with chance every single time you step into the road – but you soon get used to it and actually the speeds of vehicles are never enough to cause one any permanent damage even if knocked into!

I didn’t get any photos today!!! I really don’t know why…got some the next day though so keep reading 🙂 Also I think Dave has got a few of the water puppets on his phone so I’ll try to insert these later.

Day 60 / Day 19 of ATID – Hanoi

So the next morning, a few of us decided to brave the Vietnamese traffic and walk to the Fine Arts museum and Temple of Literature (they’re opposite each other), randomly via a statue of Lenin (got a photo!). I think there are more museums in Hanoi but Dave and I fancied the Fine Arts one for our last full day here, especially because I like art museums and galleries and we hadn’t yet been to many (any?) since starting our travels. Not a connoisseur or anything, I just like gazing on paintings and works of art and daydreaming about the stories behind them!

Seen at the Hanoi Fine Arts museum
Seen at the Hanoi Fine Arts museum

The Hanoi Fine Arts museum did not disappoint. Entry is inexpensive and it houses many varied and beautiful works from throughout Vietnam’s history, as well as a contemporary section. Took us a good couple of hours to wander through properly reading (English) captions and looking at all the different pieces. I was thoroughly happy, and if you too appreciate art museums then would recommend this one! (If you don’t, then I wouldn’t – it’s not a ‘must see for all’ like I’d say the Louvre in Paris or Kunsthistorische in Vienna are)

Seen in the Hanoi Fine Arts Museum
Seen in the Hanoi Fine Arts Museum

We had a quick drink and snack in a little café opposite the museum before moving on to the next site.

The Temple of Literature is pretty cool, it doesn’t take nearly as long as the art museum. It’s where Vietnam’s first university was set up, is dedicated to Confucius and pleasant to take a walk around. One awesome thing to note – the gift shop there sells postcards for a reasonable price and also sells international stamps and will also post the postcards for you. If you have a lot of friends and family to please and an afternoon to kill but fancy seeing a sight at the same time, the Temple of Literature is a good bet!

Entrance to Temple of Literature, Hanoi
Entrance to Temple of Literature, Hanoi

As it was very hot by now in the afternoon, we got taxis (yay air con) back to the hotel. Here is a good link to help you hail a reliable taxi. After a little bit of a rest, some of us decided to check out a famous little café that is really difficult to find but has stunning view of the lake….it is aptly named ‘The Lakeview café’.

View
View

I would try to describe exactly how to find it myself but I was led there by someone who had visited it the day before and so can’t remember! Am currently trawling the web to try and find a useful guide, if I can I will insert a link.

Useful sign - you can maybe use the English and Vietnamese to ask around if you're in vicinity of the lake!
Useful sign – you can maybe use the English and Vietnamese to ask around if you’re in vicinity of the lake!

Either way, whether you find this café or not, be sure to try egg coffee in Hanoi, which was Dave’s drink of choice here. It is not icky like it sounds but in fact rather wonderful, like a coffee and meringue in one!

Egg coffee!
Egg coffee!

After, we went for a little walk near the lake itself. The original plan had been to see if we could maybe rent a pedalo out on the lake, but couldn’t find any way to do so. Maybe it is possible earlier in the daytime.

Lake
Lake

During our walk, we spotted a bride and groom being photographed, but the girl had jeans on under her dress and we think it may have been a photo shoot for a magazine!

More wedding related stuff...
More wedding related stuff…

In the evening, we had a group dinner at Little Hanoi restaurant, which I specifically am mentioning because it was very tasty food in a lovely setting. I had some do-it-yourself spring rolls with caramalised chicken and they were divine.

As we were saying goodbye to a few members of our group who would not be joining us on the Laos leg, we went out to a bar and then a club afterwards. I am unsure of the names of either of these because neither stood out massively (the bar prices were extortionate!). However, the company was good (we really were very lucky with our tour group!) and a good night out was had by all.

Next post will cover our arrival and stay in the capital of Laos, Vientiane!

Thanks for stopping by.

Ro x

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