Sunday, April 1, 2012


We are now in Hanoi.

Our hotel is in the Old Town, a warren of streets and shops that is hectic at all times.  The narrow streets specialize by product (shoes, office supplies, backpack/luggage, food, ...) and are filled with pedestrians, cyclos (3-wheeled bikes that take one or 2 passengers), scooters, cars, and workers. It's intimidating at first.  Following a relaxed cyclo tour (where the driver deals with the traffic craziness while you window-shop for an hour, it all seems more approachable.  Yet the streets aren't really square and with a map you can still get turned around...

We succumbed and visited Uncle Ho's Tomb.  Thousands of Vietnamese visit him everyday.  Fortunately foreign tourists get priority and the wait is shorter, maybe 20 minutes the day we visited. No photos are permitted but the image of his embalmed body is still with us. Do we recommend the visit? Well, if you are in the area... besides it is interesting from a people-watching perspective.  After visiting the tombs you also visit the grounds which include his official "state" house and his preferred one-room home.

Later we went on to visit the Museum of Ethnic Cultures, a preview of our planned visit to the North.  It's an enjoyable place with replicas of traditional homes outside & displays of costumes & customs inside. 

We also went to the "compulsory" water puppet theater.  In fact this wouldn't be necessary if you visit the Ethnic Cultures Museum because it includes a show.  

We will share other details later.  For now, know that we are off to Halong Bay for two days on a junk (a new luxury junk) and are then off to the north, land of various ethnic groups and local markets.  I doubt we'll have Internet access until we return to Singapore on April 9.

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