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Published: November 19th 2008
Jen on a Fighter
Just climb right up, folks!
Hey less interested readers,
We finally got some more pictures, so it should be a better entry today. After writing the last blog, we went and watched a water puppet show down by the lake. It's a show with wooden puppets dancing on the water controlled by long bamboo sticks accompanied by traditional Vietnamese music. We don't know that there was a story line (there wasn't one we could follow anyway), but it was interesting and colourful nonetheless. The puppets were quite varied -- snakes, dragons, fish, people, etc. The dragons at one point had fireworks coming out of their mouths. They're all hand-crafted in some town just outside Hanoi whose sole business is making these things, as they're in water all the time and need to be replaced every few months.
Afterwards, we visited a local watering hole, which really just means we sat on tiny plastic lawn furniture on the street and were served beer. It was an incredible 3000 dong, or $0.20 to the rest of you. We drank 5 beers and got a large bottle of water for $2! It was neat to sit on the street and watch the world go by. It is
It's a MIG. The tower in the background is several hundred years old.
really a family business, with the grandmother pouring beer, mom waiting tables and kid playing amongst it all. You could tell they're pretty poor, but everyone seems very happy here.
The next day, we decided to go back to the Ho Chi Minh museum... when it was open! The place was very different than the day before -- guards were always telling us where we weren't supposed to be, compared to the relaxed atmosphere of the day before. The museum was interesting, though, if a bit confusing. We had to piece together uncle Ho's life with the help of our Lonely Planet, but we did finally get the picture. It basically consisted of a pretty complete looking collection of the hundreds or thousands of letters, articles, and speeches he gave throughout his life. Fortunately, a lot of it was in French, not Vietnamese, or we would have been up a creek.
We followed the museum visit with a long, confused walk, and another delicious lunch. At one point, we even saw some urban agriculture (hard to believe in a city this dense), the largest lake in the city, and a few unexplained monuments and squares. The city was
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
I guess he's in there somewhere
influenced heavily by the french, so there are wide boulevards, large squares and some interesting architecture.
In the evening, Bill and his girlfriend Linh arrived and we headed out for dinner. Bill and Linh had been watching TV and saw an ad for some kind of adventurous cuisine restaurant, so we went there. There were all kinds of things on the menu, but we were only brave enough to order crickets, fried and served with a kind of clam and chili dish. The crickets didn't taste too strong, they were mostly texture. You always seemed to have a leg or two stuck in your teeth after eating one. We both enjoyed it, actually. We were ready for bed, but Bill was having none of it.
Our waiter kept hitting on Linh; a little annoying through dinner, but handy when wanting a bar recommendation. The place he suggested, Dragonfly, was not to be found. Around the corner was General Mao's with very interesting sounding music, but Bill was on a mission. Anyway, we eventually ended up at a reggae and African music spot. They're having a big party on the 22nd if anyone is going to be around. Hanoi
Temple of Literature
Vietnam's first university, originally built by mandarins for mandarins.
(and maybe other areas) has a formal curfew of midnight, so when we left slightly after, the streets were positively abandoned. It was really bizarre, especially after experiencing the incredible density and energy that the streets have in the day.
Today we'll head to the coast with Bill and Linh in preparation for a 3-day boat trip around Halong bay and Cat Ba island. We're really looking forward to that. We'll probably post something late in the weekend, as I'm sure the boat doesn't have internet access, or film developing facilities.
That's it for now.
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