Tết, Phở and Uncle Ho

Hanoi Travel Blog

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Arriving in Hanoi at the beginning of the Tết festival was quite an experience.  I'd heard the entire city would be pretty much shut down for about a week... and they weren't kidding!  I've never been to an Asian city as "dead" as Hanoi during Tết.  Sure... some of the main drags had a steady flow of tourists and locals... but for the most part, most of the streets were empty with all the shops/storefronts closed for business (or for "Tết" as the signs posted out front indicated).  The fist night we were able to catch the supposedly pretty famous Water Puppet Show.  I was a bit confused by the significance of all the scenes and how most of them were related to eachother... but overall, the show was quite interesting and well choreographed... sort of like a live version of "Team America" (without the sex and violence).  On Day 2 we headed out to Halong Bay for an overnight cruise.  On Day 3 we returned from Halong Bay and spent the remainder of the day wandering aimlessly around Hanoi seeing what there is to see.  After bidding farewell to one of our travelmates, the rest of us set off in search of the elusive Phở (the signature Vietnamese Noodle Soup).  Unbeknownst to us, apparently the Vietnamese don't eat too much Phở during Tết... and one of our most anticipated highlights was to eat some genuine Vietnamese Phở IN Vietnam (therein lies the quandry).  After scouring the city for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably more like an hour)... we finally stumbled across a  Phở joint that was open despite the local holiday.  Following the fantastic noodle soup binge, we decided to drink our way back to the Hotel.  BTW... Vietnam has got to have the cheapest beer around.... for 2000Dong (roughly 12.5 US cents) you can get a cold glass of the mediocre swill known as "Bia Hoi" (kids... can you say "hangover"?).  Anyway... after the cultural drinking tour of Hanoi... it was time to call it a night.  On our last day we decided to take a rickshaw tour of Hanoi.  For 20USD we were toted around town all day by Vietnamese rickshaw drivers that were perpetually stuck in first gear.  Overall, the tour was fantastic and we stopped off at several key sites such as Uncle Ho's Mauseleum, Uncle Ho's Palace, Uncle Ho's House on Stilts, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Quan Tranh Temple.  After the tour, the remainder of the day was spent tending to a "mini-crisis" before barely making our flight back to Bangkok.  One final bit of advice... beware of pickpockets at the Quan Tranh temple... and that's all I have to say on that subject (if you have further questions on this, feel free to contact my travelmate directly!) ;-P

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photo by: mario26