Jun 27, 2010


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.

The bridge at Hoan Kim Lake

Enjoying life like the Vietnamese do

One of the many fan sellers around the lake

It's not what you think

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.

The squatting squad

A row of diners and shops in Old Quarter

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.
Puppets in action

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 masters of puppets

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..


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.

With Uncle Ho

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.


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.


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...


  1. ooooh, the water puppet performance! Glad you got to see it.

    I've been to Vietnam 3 times now and I still haven't had the chance to experience it.

  2. kangen jalan-jalan.

  3. Incredible pictures of Hanoi. you explored it(Hanoi) beautifully. I like the picture of Ho Chi Minh Museum and Hoan Kim Lake. Thanks for sharing your adventurous trip us.