After SaPa we returned to spend a few days in Hanoi, which is a fun, interesting, and eclectic city. What was especially nice was seeing the French influence in the architecture giving the city some tucked away charm behind the teeming mass of humanity on the streets.
Another thing I love about cities like this is that you can "walk" and find almost anything and everything you need. It's nice not to have to get in a cab or car to get from there to here. Of course in Hanoi, as in many other parts of Asia, the ubiquitous motor scooters cause a din of "putt puttting"all around you. It certainly appears that the scooter is/has replaced the bike for carrying everything from its human cargo to flocks of chicken or a pile of boxes or even a half dozen sheep hanging from their canvas holders bleeting downt he street.
A most wonderful and pleasant surprise was a visit to the Hanoi Cultural Museum. This was incredibly done with full size exhibits of a life past, rich in history of the tribes of early Vietnam and the cultural impact on a modern Viet Nam.
Strolling the grounds led us onto scenes typical of those we've found elsewhere in Asia: Favorite settings for wedding photographs. Unlike in the states when the majority of photos are done on the wedding day, Asian weddings seem to book way in advance to have their photographs taken in beautiful settings, often months before the wedding. In our short visit we came across no less than six wedding parties being photographed in about a one block area on the museum grounds.
An evening at the Water Puppet Show with more information here. The art form goes back to the tenth century where farmers used what media they had to create entertainment.
Had to visit the Hanoi Hilton, the prison where John McCain and hundreds and hundreds of others were imprisoned. And as always to read more, do the Google or internet search for "Hanoi Hilton". The Vietnamese present their "side" of what happened in the "American War" and as many U.S. publications tout: "Don't believe everything you read." Now that Murdoch owns many U.S. newspapers, that sounds like good advice, even at home.
The evenings were a big bright spot as we found a great place for Vietnamese food down the street and you know the kind of place where the food is always the best: A mom and pop operation, complete with beaten up furniture, the head of the clan counting cash and the days receipts a few tables over, the door open to a kitchen with a quick glance might make you want to walk out, but the food was so Viet Damn good!!!! Where else can you have dinner, a beer, see what life is really like and for U.S. $5? No, sorry, a Burger King or McDonald's just doesn't come close at all.
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