Hectic Hanoi

Laying in bed in slowly coming around I was being serenaded by the sound of car and motorbike horns in the street beneath us. Gen and I were getting up early to go and see the famous water puppet show in Hanoi.

So by 9:30am we were at the national theatre to watch the show. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t like anything like what I thought it might be. It was kind of a cross between Punch and Judy and a Musical, only the songs were all in Vietnamese and so I hadn’t a clue what they were singing about. We kind of got the idea of what was going on from the puppets themselves.

It was really quite fascinating, basically there are a number of people stood behind a bamboo screen who operate the puppets which are attatched to long poles beneath the water. There is a traditional band next to the pool of water who sing/narrate the tales. Each scene was about 4-5 minutes long and re inacted either famous myths or festivals they celebrate. It was all very bizarre but a good laugh at the same time.

After having visited the water puppets we headed for breakfast, Gen was still grumpy at the fact she’d not been able to eat since lunchtime the day before! We found a lovely little cafe (if not a little pricey) on the corner of a street and sat down and ordered some fresh spring rolls and some traditional Pho. When it all came it certainly kept her ladyship quiet, there was loads!!!!

Next stop was Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. Although Uncle Ho was currently in Russia getting his embalming touched up we still went to visit the Mausoleum to see what it was like. It was no where near as special as the Taj Mahal but it was quite spectacular in a different kind of way. It wasn’t at all ornate, it was more like a big cube with rectangular pillars all around. Still it stood out very proudly in the Old Quarter skyline.

We had a wander around the surrounding area and saw the One Pillar Pagoda which was re built after the French destroyed it as they were pulling out of Vietnam and then we went to see the Stilt House where Ho Chi Minh used to live. We also so the Palace … but only from a distance, it was guarded by scary looking army folk.

The midday sun was now really hot and so we bargained with a cyclo driver to take us to the Hanoi Hilton, where the American P.O.W’s (and John McCain) were held during the Vietnam War. Although most of it had been destroyed to make way for a modern skyscraper, they had carefully restored the front of the building and turned it into a museum. It was really quite interesting although it looked like it would have been pretty grim in there back in the day. There was also a massive guillotene in there which looked pretty menacing!

Gen was hungry again now so we went in search of ice cream and stumbled upon the comically named Fanny Ice Cream…. there are many sexual innuendo’s that can be and were made at the time, but i’ll leave them to you to imagine. Either way the ice cream was good and once again Gen was happy…. I’ve begun to realise that to keep Gen happy for a full day you need to take regular pitstops which involve either food or beer, preferably at the same time. That way your onto a winner and she’ll walk around happily all day!

We went for a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake to look at the bridge and things before going in search of a good and reliable travel agent to book a trip to Halong Bay the following day. Trip booked we headed accross the road to a restraunt called 69 bar… Again, more sexual innuendos could be made. The spring rolls were fantastic and after leaving there we went for a few beers and headed back to the hotel for an early night.

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