Goodbye Danang, Hello Hanoi

July 1, 2010 - Ha Noi, Vietnam

 

We started the day with a Skype back to Melbourne, Australia to check in with Mark’s family and then to Swansea, Massachusetts to check in with Wendy’s family. Technology is amazing! We weren’t sure if there would be any problem using Skype here. Although Vietnam is a Communist country, people have access to a variety of international television channels including CNN, BBC, and HBO and we’ve had full (free) internet access in airports and at our hotels. Mark has not been able to log on to Facebook, however. Thankfully, the Skype calls went through just fine.

After breakfast, Mark and Wendy headed down to the beach for a few hours before leaving for our next destination, Hanoi. Dave has recovered from his heat rash thanks to the care provided by “Nurse Wendy” but he opted to stay back at the hotel out of the sun and heat.

We bid Danang farewell and set off on the one-hour flight to Hanoi at 2:20 p.m. As we headed to our hotel from the airport we were struck by the similarities and differences between Hanoi and Danang. Hanoi is a big city and you got the feeling that it was more “put together” than Danang.  For one, the streets that we travelled here were in much better condition. The homes were also different in that there are many two-three- and even four-story houses here. Most roofs here are tiled vs. the metal roofs in Danang. There are still many store fronts along the street and we saw rice fields and water buffalo on the outskirts of the city as we were driving in. There are still many motorbikes although we saw more cars on the highway (that changed as we got into the city where the motorbikes dominate).

We are staying at the Hilton in Hanoi (not to be confused with the “Hanoi Hilton” which we'll visit tomorrow) in the French Quarter. This leg of the journey will bring travails, as we will venture out into the city--and the traffic--on our own, by foot. The journey began right away as we headed out to dinner.

We made our way through the crowds, beeping horns, and traffic to enjoy a typical Vietnamese dinner of spring rolls, beef with chilies and lemongrass, steamed rice, and sautéed bok choy. It was delicious. After dinner we headed out to the Thang Long (the former name of the city of Hanoi until 1804) Theater to see a water puppet show. Water puppetry is a thousand-year-old Vietnamese performance art with deep roots in the wet rice agriculture of the Red River Delta. Carved from fig wood, then painted and lacquered, the madcap puppets career over a watery stage, enacting skits drawn from Vietnam’s treasury of folklore and history. We all enjoyed the 45-minute show, particularly the musical accompaniment.

As we headed out of the theater, we were struck by how busy the streets were at 9:00 on a Thursday night. It seemed like rush hour traffic and the sidewalks were covered with babies, children, and adults of all ages. Hanoi is a lively place!

There is a lot of publicity commemorating the 1,000-year anniversary of Hanoi as the capitol of Vietnam on 10.10.10, including a video screen counting down the days—we have 101 days to go! However, in 1804, the Nguyen dynasty moved the capitol from Hanoi to Hue. At the same time, renaming what was then Thang Long to Hanoi. Hue remained the capitol until 1945 when Ho Chi Minh and the founding fathers of modern Vietnam moved the capitol back to Hanoi.

 


Pictures

Water Puppet Theater
Water Puppet Theater
Water Puppet Theater
Water Puppet Theater
 
 

1 Comment

Heather:
July 1, 2010
WOW........you guys are sure having quite the interesting journey !!!!!!!!
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