Last hours in Hanoi

Get a late start to my final day of Hanoi Vietnam. I Want to visit the Ho chi Minh house and sights in the vicinity but I miss the opening hours since they are limited. I end up just wandering around town instead.

One thing I forgot to mention previously is the Hanoi pedestrian street crossing. It takes courage and special skills to cross the street in Hanoi. It seems so intimidating at first but once you do your first couple street crossings then you never want to go back to your old ways. Hanoi is busy. So many people, so many cars, so many motor bikes; plus bicycles and carts on the road. The traffic appears to stop for no one. There are some intersections with cross signals but in most cases you need to do the Hanoi cross. To cross the street you just walk out into the street and maintain a consistent speed. Vehicles and bikes will move around you. If you hesitate or stop mid-way that is when problems occur. It took me a while to get it but I eventually developed the skill.

Example of crossing in busy traffic. See the two men that walk across on the right.

Example of busy traffic. I am in my uber waiting forever in traffic.

More images from around Hanoi

Grand Opera House
I happen to come across a game of shuttlecock? while walking by a park.

Monsoon Music Festival

The walking streets are alive at night. The previous weekend I watched a boxing match from the street at a distance. Tonight I watch an act from the Monsoon Music Festival. I love finding free concerts when I travel.

Beer street

I try my hand at beer street. This is supposed to be the place to try local beers. I didn’t stay out long but I got to experience a little bit of local night life. As I sat outside a bar at a cafe table I watch the constant street vendors and shoe cleaners (will clean your shoes for a fee while you sip your beverages at the bar).

My visit to Hanoi has come to an end. I fly to Hue tomorrow. Even with all the time I spent here, I missed so much. I’ll be back someday.

Vietnamese Women’s Museum

During my visit to Hanoi Vietnam I came across the Vietnamese Women’s Museum (VWM). The museum has a wealth of information about the lives of Vietnamese women.

First off, it is very nice to get an air conditioned break from the heat. Secondly, there is not a crowd at the museum. Yea me!

I first see a very informative exhibit on marriage and patrilineal (men make the decisions) vs matrilineal (elder women make the decisions) societies in Vietnam. There is a mix of both in Vietnam, mostly depending on what region the group lives. I learn about the varying customs that different groups follow.

I love the exhibit on marriage and birth traditions.

Matrimonial tent
Birth traditions video

I enjoy the demonstrations of tools and cooking methods.

Mother Goddess

One of the temporary exhibitions is a mother goddess exhibit. It describes the practice and rituals of worshiping mother goddess by traditional Vietnamese.

This exhibit reminded me slightly of Candomblé, the afro-Portuguese religion where worshipers would take on the personas of deities in a trance-like state (I witnessed a ceremony when visiting Brazil many years ago).

The third dame: Third mother goddess in white robe
Costumes of incarnation of dieties

Women during the Vietnam war.

Another floor has an exhibit on how important women were during the Vietnam war.

Fake identity cards

Women were instrumental in creating human bridges that would make it possible to carry wounded across waterways when it was flooded.

Vietnamese women were skilled in sneaking private documents behind enemy lines. There is an exhibit on the ways women used to sneak documents. Women would walk around unnoticed during the war and were often employed in this capacity.

Textiles

A final impressive exhibit is the display of the different attire of Vietnam. I love seeing the different colors and styles throughout different regions.

Very nice way to spend an afternoon.

related post: More Hanoi

Hermès In Motion

People who know me know I have very little interest in high fashion. I sometimes crave nicer things but I don’t usually see the cost benefit for spending a ton of money on an item I can get more affordably without a label. For this reason I am surprised I am so happy to come upon a Hermès exhibit outside the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam this past October. (October 25)

The actual exhibit is called In Motion and features Hermès designed items to travel and motion. This exhibit is right up my alley with bikes, roller skates, picnic gear, and hidden flasks. It is very enjoyable to see all fancy things related to travel.

Insulated Flask 1936
Nesting Beakers 19th century
Early 20th Century flask. There is a demonstration video on its use.
2018 Skateboard
2018 Rollerskates

Hermès In Motion is a high fashion event that is just my style. It is a nice little air conditioned exhibit that was definitely worth the hour or so.

More Hanoi

I am back in Hanoi. I have moved hotels to experience a different part of town and to save some money. The streets are smaller here. The hotel is satisfactory but my only complaint is the weird placement of the bathroom inside an existing room box. It makes me think the bathroom was added later. There is some mildew smell but that is typical in budget hotels in southeast Asia. Usually those smells bother me but I find myself more likely to just go with the flow here. When did I become so easy going, lol?

My room has some snacks to purchase. The universe must hate me because look what I am offered – squid chips!

More train street

I once again walk by train street. I see they are getting more lax with their security since people are actually walking onto the tracks to get pictures. I wonder if in time they will re-open the coffee shops and cafes?

Temple Of Literature

I am heading to the temple of literature. The temple of literature was built in the 11th century as a university dedicated to Confucius. One of the highlights are the Bia Da (Stone Stelae) standing stone slabs used to commemorate graduates.

GREAT PORTICO OF VAN MIEU

I walk back to the main building (Đại Thành Sanctuary). I am not in fully modest attire so I am given a robe to wear for modesty. It is definitely not in an american size. It barely fits me. It is hot out and this extra covering makes me sweat more but it is what I have to do to sight-see around here.

In that same complex I visit a very interesting Hermès exhibit and for that I’ll create a separate post.

Later today I visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. I’ll create a separate post for that as well.

After a long day of sightseeing I am craving western comforts. A couple on my junk boat cruise recommends 4P pizza. It is a Vietnam pizza chain. I am very satisfied with my pizza, mozzarella salad and wine. Since my visit is close to Halloween all of the staff is dressed like witches. It is a fun little escape with some comfort food for the night.

I grow fonder of Hanoi the more time I spend here.

More later…..

Junk boat Day 1

I am heading on Junk boat cruise. A junk boat is a Chinese style of sailing boat typical to Vietnam. They are very popular these days for leisure cruises on Ha Long Bay. The cruise company I chose (Indochina Junk) sails on the Bai Tu Long Bay. The Bai Tu is adjacent to Ha Long. It looks similar but is only open to a couple tour companies whereas the Ha Long tends to get packed on a daily basis with many tour boats.

The day before my cruise I take it easy; I walk around Hanoi and make sure I am all ready for my cruise.

I order some chicken soup while I am out. (Sorry I did not note where I got this lovely soup but I believe it is west of the lake).

Start of Cruise

A van picks me up early from my Hanoi hotel. There is wifi in the van but I have a hard time getting it to work. We will be without internet for a couple days so I would have liked to do some last minute catching up but I end up “checking out” early I guess.

On the way to the boat terminal we stop at a tourist trap plus snacks and booze place. I buy some snacks and a bottle of wine for the boat (fortunately I am still holding onto that wine bottle opener I bought many months ago!).

I check into terminal and we get assigned in small groups and wait more. There are multiple cruises leaving therefore many small groups are waiting around. The terminal has a couple places to eat and small convenience store. I stock up on some things like wet wipes.

My badge group

Finally our group is called and we walk out to our tinder boats.

tinders
Getting ready to head to cruise boat
almost at our boat

We enter from the back bottom of the boat. We are instructed to meet in the indoor dining room to get our room assignments. My room happens to be on the bottom floor toward the back of the boat. I can feel the movement once the boat starts the engine but it is not enough to get me sea sick (sometimes I get a tiny bit nauseous when I look out the window when the boat is moving).

Hallway to my room
View outside before we leave

Time to eat lunch. We eat lunch and dinner on the outside deck and breakfast inside in the mornings.

Steamed Mixed Seafood

I haven’t been in Vietnam very long but on this cruise is where I begin my dislike of squid and prawns. I normally like both squid and prawns but on the ship we eat it for almost every meal. I get tired of both quickly.

After the meal I walk around the top to soak in the nice view before I return to my room to prepare for our kayak excursion.

This afternoon is one of two kayaking adventures the boat offers. I like to kayak but don’t tend to go out too much. The kayaking trip they offer seems like a great opportunity to get out on the bay. At the loading area it is almost all tandem kayaks with only a couple singles. Because I am one of the few people alone on the cruise (and the only single person participating in kayaking) they give me a single person kayak. It is a sit-in which already puts me at a disadvantage (slow for me) but also since I am in the shorter kayak, I struggle to keep up the speed I need to keep pace with the group. The times I am able to just paddle at my pace and view the scenery I enjoy but unfortunately I feel pressured to constantly play catch up with the group instead of enjoying the moment. Plus my shoulders already hate me from the stress of my backpack and day pack and traveling. Now my shoulders are about to totally go on strike. Me not being able to enjoy the moment is a shame because it really is beautiful out there. I really wish the experience was set up so they have a kayaking zone where everyone can explore at their own pace and then they can round us all up when it is time to go back.

Also I did not even notice until a friend later commented that I am missing the hatch cover. (LOL) I could have sunk! At least I had a life vest.

Ship ahead!

After a tiring kayak adventure I go back to my room to clean up for dinner. Wandering before dinner, I eye the pool but never get around to using it. It is just a small little pool anyway.

Dinner time.

Of course more prawns and squid. I enjoy the mackerel and the dessert tonight.

King Prawn and Squid Cake

One of the staff members has a flute performance for us. The two main boat activity guys seem to be jacks of all trades.

I believe there is an evening squid fishing adventure but I pass for the night in favor of early retirement. This isn’t exactly a party boat either, evidenced from the plethora of children that are aboard (many of the them unhappy but more about that tomorrow).

Map of the bay