After a couple nice nights in Hue, Sandy and I flew to Hanoi for the final portion of our trip. We landed at the airport and were given a tour of the Old Quarter. This neighborhood is unique where historically each street specialized in a specific craft. Most streets now are no longer dedicated to one craft, but there are a few remaining exceptions. We explored the metal-smithing street, along with the musical instrument street and kitchen wares. It was fascinating to think that it is more than likely that the toilet paper roll holder my parents have in their bathroom back in the U.S. more than likely was made on the side of the street a few feet from me. 🙂 Later that evening we were treated to a fantastic water puppet show. The puppeteers hide behind a bamboo curtain, knee-deep in water, and through the use of some long poles control wooden puppets that not only move their arms, but some breathe fire!
The next day we continued to explore Hanoi, by first visiting Ho Chi Minh’s tomb, and his home nearby. There was a very unique temple that is build upon a single pole in a pond, which was fun to photograph. We also had the chance to visit a heritage museum, which has some great reproductions of some tribal housing. One of my favorite houses is one that has what has to be a two-three story thatched roof. The main living space is also about one story above ground making this one of the tallest indigenous dwellings I have ever seen. We continued on to the Temple of Literature which is a nice little oasis of calm in the chaos of Hanoi. I like the fact that all graduates of this early university have their names immortalized on a stella carried by a turtle.
On our final day in Vietnam, we took a day trip up to Halong Bay. This is one of the most serene an peaceful places I have experienced. The day was overcast, but it added to the mystery and mystique of the area. Giant limestone islands scattered throughout the bay appear and disappear through the mist as our boat glides through the water. Some of these islands have caves which the Vietnamese government have made visitable to all people. Among these islands you can find a few floating villages where people make their living fishing and selling humble crafts to tourists. All too quickly our excursion ended, both Sandy and I reluctantly got back into the car for the long drive back to the hotel.