Our own Hanoi City Tour was still in Oct 12 – 14, 2009
In exploring the city, we didn’t hire any one to guide us. The internet was already a big help, telling us what to see and where to go. The only maps we had were the ones that we got for free at the airport upon our arrival. Jakarta is way behind when it comes to free maps.
Hoan Kim Lake
This is what always came up whenever we browsed for Hanoi information. It’s a vast lake in the middle of the city, located in the Old Quarter district. Life happens around the lake. And it’s only, like, 10 minutes walk from our stay.
Hanoi people (a week later I concluded that it’s actually Vietnamese in general) like to hang out sitting down, way down. Like, almost squatting. Some do squat. They sit on these little stools on sidewalks, chit chatting while having coffee or meals, or just chit chatting, or just watching people go by. Very laid back atmosphere. You’ll see a lot of that too around Hoan Kim Lake, other than souvenir shops and street vendors.
There’s a bridge connecting the sidewalk with a temple in the middle of the lake. You have to pay a small amount of money to get in the temple area.
After the tour around the lake – well we didn’t literally go around it – it was time for Water Puppet! Yes! I had been waiting for this, I was curious what it’s really about.
Turns out, it’s really a show of puppets, in and on water, as you can see in these blurry pictures that we took and in the video.
A clip of the show
So the puppet masters hide behind the curtain in the background, holding long sticks with the puppets at the end, and move them around according to the story. And they wear knee-high rubber boots to protect themselves from the water, in which they have to dip everyday, so to speak.
The narration and music illustration come from these singers and musicians at one side of the water stage. The story itself is about Vietnam people’s daily life and traditions, which consist of plowing the rice paddies, shepherding, etc. This form of entertainment is said to have come a long way back, as a tribute from farmers to the royals. Hm, since we watched it in the @ VND 60,000 VIP seats, we were some of the royals in that one hour time. Hee hee..
HO CHI MINH MUSEUM
We’re not really history freaks, but because we couldn’t go to Ha Long Bay, oh well, why not get geeky a little bit. After all, Vietnam does have an interesting history what with the Vietnam War, communism and stuff. So off we went to Ho Chi Minh Museum, located in the centre of the Hanoi city.
Here’s a link I found when browsing about it http://www.haivenu-vietnam.com/des-hanoi-mausoleum.htm .
Despite whatever that website says, which I did not read all of it, I thought the museum was.. well, quite impressive. I guess I underestimated Vietnam before I went there. Turns out, I don’t think in Indonesia we have a museum which is as good as this one.
They not only display the historical side of Vietnam, they also display some art works in creative ways, too. I really wish Indonesian government apreciates arts like that, at the least.
ONE PILLAR PAGODA
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t interested with this pagoda. Maybe I just didn’t do enough research. This Buddhist temple is actually considered as one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam, so says Wikipedia , and was built in the 11th century. The obvious uniqueness is that it stands on one big fat pillar in the centre of a pond. People do come up there and pray. I don’t know how many people can fit in and how much weight it can hold, though.
HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM
I only found out about the existence of this mausoleum right that morning when we failed to go to Halong Bay. It’s where they keep Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body, inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow. I got very interested to see it. Unfortunately, the mausoleum was closed for renovation..! oh darn it! Just the one thing I was really eager to see to sort of heal my wound of not going to Halong Bay (dramatic mode: on), and it was closed until a month ahead. Oh well. More reason for me to come back to Hanoi again, whenever.
Alright. Next post, I'm gonna tell you some tips to stay safe in Vietnam streets. And of course about the food..! Nom nom nom...