Well we have arrived at Hanoi our final destination in Vietnam before we fly back to Bangkok, our stay in Hanoi has had some high’s and low’s mainly high’s thankfully. We stayed at the hotel Meracus which is located in the old quarter near the Hoan Kiem lake a perfect location for exploring the city. Hanoi I’m my opinion is very different from Saigon, it has much more of a communist feel about the place, like the public address announcements each morning, the very difficult access to social media sites on the web and the use of such words as the imperialist invasion referring to the Vietnam war and rightly so in my opinion, but nonetheless Hanoi is a great city to visit.
One of the many things on our list of ToDo’s whilst here in Hanoi was to get tickets to the water puppet show which was recommended to me by a friend, so without further a do we strolled along to the theatre to purchase our tickets, the entire show is performed in a large pool of water which is the stage and the elaborately decorated puppets all appearing from behind screens and from beneath the water, the show tells the story of the marriage between Lac Long Quan the king of the dragons (a sacred animal in oriental culture) and Au Co, a fairy, the story tells the origins of the Vietnamese people, a truly magnificent performance, culminating in a spectacular colourful ending a great eve was had by all.
Whilst we were in Hanoi I celebrated my 56 birthday, and it was on my birthday that we had arranged a free tour of the city with the Hanoi Kids, now the Hanoi Kids is an organisation of some 200 hundred volunteers consisting of university students who are learning English and by taking English-speaking tourists on tours of the city this enables them to hone their english speaking skills. I discovered the Hanoi Kids organisation on my research into our trip, and what a truly memorable tour of the city we had, our tour guide Son who is 21 and studying to be a teacher gave us a fantastic tour of the cities sights, we visited the infamous Hoa Lo prison or known to the American prisonors of war as the Hanoi Hilton, the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Ho Chi Minh’s house and grounds, he took us to a very busy and vibrant restaurant Quan An Ngon that many of the locals frequent for lunch where we ate some delicious local food. After visiting the Ho Chi Minh complex in the afternoon Son suggested we have a cup of coffee, now the coffee shop was situated down a very small ally, which incidentally we would never have found ourselves, then Son told us we were not having any old coffee but an egg coffee, yes I know what you are thinking that sounds really disgusting let me explain, the coffee shop has been in the same family for a couple of generations, and the current proprietors father invented egg coffee as there was a great demand for cappuccino but he could not get the raw ingredients he needed to make it so he invented the egg coffee, now when it come to food or drink for that matter I will try most things, but I must admit I was a bit dubious about said egg coffee, but honestly I can safely say it was the best coffee I have ever tasted, in fact we were all so impressed we had another. So a big big thank you to Hanoi kids especially our tour guide Son (pronounced Sun) a day that will live with me forever.
Well its soon time to leave Indochina and Vietnam behind us and for me it will be a sad parting, as the country is truly an amazing place, so much culture, so much history and just amazing people, and I for one will now instead of thinking of the terrible war that went on there every time the county’s name is mentioned I will just think of it as probably the most amazing country that I have ever visited in all my years of travelling. I will definitely be back.