Oct 2008

Hanoi Highlights II

Whereas our first couple of days in Hanoi were spent leisurely walking around town and eating in the Old Quarter, our final day in the capital city was crammed with a bevy of tourist activities. We started our day with a bowl of wonton noodles (mi hoang thanh) on Mai Hac De Street, which was touted by Rough Guide as having excellent local fare. The street had a handful of restaurants, but I definitely wouldn’t classify it as a culinary hot spot. In addition to wontons and noodles, the soup contained slices of barbecued pork, fried wonton skins, chives and a quarter of a hard boiled egg. Overall, a good soup, but it lacked the oomph of its southern counterpart. I say, more fish sauce and more black pepper.

Unsatisfied with our bland bowl of wontons, we headed a few doors down to a bun rieu establishment. Our zesty bowl of vermicelli noodles with tomatoes and crab was solid, and dare I say, nearly as good as Saigon’s beloved Thanh Hai. Fried tofu is the greatest flavor soaker there ever was.

After lunch, we hopped on our rented motorbike and went on a drive by greeting (similar to a drive by shooting, but more peaceful) to Uncle Ho’s mausoleum. One of these days I’m gonna wait in line and see Ho’s mummified body.

The Hanoi Opera House.

After site seeing on the motorbike for twenty minutes, The Astronomer and I were ready for a snack, so we stopped at a shack near the Opera House that sold ice cream and small bites. I ordered sweet sticky rice topped with French vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut (kem xoi). I give it three snaps in “Z” formation.

The always-savory Astronomer ordered a portion of nem ngot ran—slightly spicy meat that’s breaded and fried.

Properly fueled, we zoomed to check out the One Pillar Pagoda—Chùa Một Cột—an iconic Buddhist temple.

While in the neighborhood, we briefly considered going to the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Pros—air conditioning, cons—shame. The Astronomer was shaking in his boots posing outside the museum. After deliberating, we decided to put our dong to good use elsewhere.

Although the Ethnography Museum was not air conditioned, it was definitely an educationally stimulating and guilt-free way to spend the afternoon.

The multi-story museum contained all sorts of colorful and interactive displays featuring Vietnamese minorities. Exploring all of the exhibits got me really excited about heading to the mountainous town of Sapa. Plaid neon-colored do-rags are awesome.

We also saw a plethora of ancient carvings. One part Home Alone, one part The Thinker.

Outside the museum are a number of life-sized models of minority dwellings.

This one was our favorite.

Here’s another shot of the ancient Mccaulley Caulkin / Auguste Rodin hybrid.

After a couple hours in the museum, we headed back to the Old Quarter.

A trip to Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without a water puppet performance.

A water fairy prancing about.

The cast and crew take their bows. Farewell, Hanoi!

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4 thoughts on “Hanoi Highlights II

  1. Nice pictures of Hanoi, especially that water puppet signage shot.

    I wonder why you think it would have been shameful to visit the HCM museum. Actually, I can hazard a guess why, but if you have another chance, do check it out. It’s quite interesting, and the a/c allows you to linger and look around. I was surprised by how pro-American the exhibits that depicted his earlier political life was.

    The storyline of HCM being a great revolutionary in the same vein as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson was stressed to a surprising degree.

  2. D – I was curious to check it out, but wasn’t sure if the exhibits would be truthful or just propaganda. I am surprised to hear that anything in that museum is pro-American! The bottomline is that my family loathes the man, and I couldn’t bring myself to learn about his questionably truthful life.

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