Hanoi: St Joseph's Cathedral, during our (painfully slow) cyclo-tour!
KERRY - On our return from Halong bay we checking back into our hotel and then went to see the famous water puppet theatre. This is very famous in Hanoi and i really enjoyed it. The live music and singing were really good and some of the puppets were really sweet - also some comical moments as well. Well worth a trip to see!
We spent the next day in Hanoi soaking up the sights and avoiding the motorbikes (see my previous entry!). There is actually a lot to see in the city and we did not get time to see all that we wanted to, but what we did see was of interest and just means we will have to come back again at some point.
we got up pretty early and headed out to see Ho Chi Minhs mauseleum.
Hanoi: The placid, nutcase traffic mounts!
This is where his preserved body lies in state and is open every morning for people to come and pay their respects. We walked about 25 mins to get there - we had been advised by a tour guide we met on the bus into the city when we first arrived, not to take anything with us as it is a lot easier - you are not allowed to take anything into the mauseleum anyway! So we do not have any photos. The Mauseleum iteslf ifs a huge huge structure and you have to queue up with the crowds to walk in and see the body of Ho Chi Minh. luckily for us there was hardly a queue at all, and we strolled in. It was the best airconditioning i think i have experienced in SE Asia! It was well recieved for the minute that we were in the building as it was a scorching day. The experience of seeing Ho was a bit surreal, he looked well preserved and was guarded by 4 soilers at each corner of his 'tomb'.
Hanoi (Temple of Literature): Andrei and the entrance.
After seeing his body we wandered over to his palace and residential area where we saw the house that he used to live and work in as well as some of his old cars and the immaculatley kept grounds that he used to roam. We then came accross a museum about his life, although this was not as interesting as i had hoped as i thought it would have more about his life and rise to power in Vietnam. Istread it was a sequence of photos showing his support of the people throughout this life in politics. It was a well laid out museum, but not as informative as i would have liked. The second floor also had some wierd exhibits of art and sculpture that were meant to reflect aspects of his work as well i think?
After checking out of our hotel we then took a cyclo around the old quarter and to the Temple of Literature.
Hanoi (Temple of Literature): Beautiful gardens, shame about the contstant sound of traffic over the low-ish walls!
We had only wanted to hire the cyclo for an hr but this ended up turning into 2, as we underestimated how long it would take the man to cycle us to the temple. We should have said stop after an hr as it ended up costing us more as well, but never mind! This also meant we were not able to visit the prison in Hanoi, where the POWs used to be held, or take a leisurly stroll around the lake!
We ate a really delicious lunch at Koto - near to the Temple of Literature - it is a restaurant based on the same idea that Jamie Oliver used in the UK (i think he may have taken the idea to the UK?) in that it is a restaurant teaching a trade to young aduts who come from disadvantaged families. The food was great and i would really recommend it! It is a bit more expensive than you usually pay!
The we headed into the Temple of Literature for a walk around.
Hanoi (Temple of Literature): Fashion shoot?
This was a really nice Temple and was dedicated to Confucius. It was founded in 1070 and became the temple where people learnt to follow the principles laid down by Confucious, and soon became an intellecual and spiritual centre as education spread amongst the court and eventually the common people. It was really hard to pass the exams to become a Mandarin and took 35 days!! It was a peaceful place amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. The stelea (carved stone blocks) that surrounded the courtyard and record the names of the 1306 successful scholars, were interesting to see as were the temples themselves.
After taking this in, it was a brisk walk back to the hotel to have a quick change and shower to get on the night bus to Hue.
The bus arrived early!! but we did not keep them waiting too long.
Hanoi (Temple of Literature): Incense burning.
We were taken in a mini bus to the main bus, and were pleasently surprised on arrival. We had opted for the open ticket, after much deliberation taht it was the tourist option, and the bus was really comfy. We had our own individual beds (we had paid for the soft sleeper option at $60 each) and it was great. We both slept really well, considering we were travelling all night! it was even better when the Vietnamese pop stopped playing on the stereo!