Hanoi (9th - 12th Feb)
Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
87Trip End Dec 29, 2008
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We had delayed coming to Vietnam until after the New Year celebrations as we were told nothing would be open. Tet lasts three days (as we were told). However, it seems in Hanoi, they celebrate for much longer as there were quite a few restaurants and shops closed. We did see most nights small bonfires held in the street, as part of the New Year ritual.
On our second night there, we found a public stage had been erected in the middle of the main road and the Chinese Circus performed. The acrobats were particularly amazing. The audience was made up of people on motorbikes, that just drove up to the stage to watch. (ALthough there was some traffic that tried to get through the mass of stationary bikes, which got harder and harder to do as the audience grew. We decided to have dinner on the 4th floor of the restaurant balcony nearby and had a great view of the stage. The bridge leading to the small temple on the lake - Hoan Kiem - was lit up and looked beautiful in the background, (but no photos of this as we did not have the camera with us).
Looking for nice places to eat was quite difficult due to the closures for Tet, but we did find one or two lovely places, although we avoided the Tortoise and the Frog (giant and served whole) that was on the menu fairly frequently). Hanoi is claims that it is the culinary capital of Vietnam (as does Hue and Saigon!) and is particularly proud of its dog restaurants. Hanoi is also the first place we have been charged for using the napkins in a restaurant/cafe !
Hanoi is a lovely city, and we walked around the markets, the old quarter, the lake and the town. The main sightseeing attractive of Ho Chi Minhs Mausoleum was closed for viewing of the (dead!) man himself. We also walked to the Temple of Literature, but inside was heaving with locals as an event seemed to be taking place for Tet. Many academics were practicing calligraphy outside, which was very interesting.
Where I stayed