Our last leg of #AwesomeAsia is Vietnam. And we have an added bonus of meeting up with Zim’s friend, Hang, who shows us her city of Hanoi.
The arrival is a bit precarious, as we learn we must pay $25 to enter the country. However, the ATM is located outside the airport so that’s not an option. Credit cards are not accepted and the desk attendees do not seem care about your dilemma. Hmm. An amazing Aussie offers to pay for Zim. I have some cash but not all of it. I am not comfortable asking strangers for money but as the Aussie poignantly puts it, start asking or you are going back to where you just came from. Balance secured, thank you, family of five for helping me.
We are in another homestay via AirBnB. If you are not aware of this site, you should be, especially if you travel. We settle into our room and then back out into the city scenes, sites, sounds and smells of Hanoi. I have my first street food – Bánh mì – with pork, cukes and chili sauce. Delish.
We tour Hanoi’s oldest university, Van Mieu, a Temple of Literature. We also went to the Hanoi War Museum. This photo is a sculpture of sorts, made from the wreckage of American war planes.
Vietnam sculpture at the Hanoi War Museum
We walk alongside the lake and stumble upon a group of young men and women singing songs and playing guitars. A nice cultural interlude. Later in the evening, I have the great fortune to enjoy a traditional Beef Noodle dish at a local hangout and where guests share tables as they eat.
The next day, we leave the city and take a three hour bus ride to Halong Bay. As the boat chugs out into the bay, a community style lunch is served and I have my first fish dish. I think I like this notion of community style dining.
Fish stew, a Vietnamese cruise food
The highlight of the day was gliding through the water and caves of Halong Bay in a kayak. We take in the serenity, the quiet and the beauty as we celebrate Zim’s birthday. We also learn the small huts that perch over the water house a full family in one room, complete with a television!
A water village on Halong Bay
Before we depart Hanoi, we make a point to take in a Vietnamese cultural tradition, a water puppet show. The singers and musicians perform live and the ‘actors’ are behind-the-scenes (until the finale as seen below) and manipulate the puppets that perform on the water.
An authentic water puppet show in Hanoi
Like Thailand, Vietnam brought city life lived in the streets and natural wonder. It was a cultural treat to see the city through a native’s eyes. Cám o′n Hang and Vietnam.
If you would like to see my full Vietnam photo album on Flickr, please click here. Thank you in advance for your eyeballs and for your time.