My first full day in Vietnam, I took off with a girl I met at my hostel (highly recommended if you're traveling to Hanoi) to explore the many museums and monuments in and around the city. Everything was beautiful, but crowded with tourists (and of course, the people trying to sell things to the tourists).
I visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the museum and sites around it. Then I went to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's oldest university which was very beautiful, and I found myself making comparisons between temple/palace sites in Korea and the same in Vietnam (Vietnam's always have water; Korea's art is more linear and clean, Vietnam's more intricate suggesting a more direct Hindu influence on its Buddhism). After lunch, I took in the Hoa Lo Prison (otherwise known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam war). The exhibits all focused on the French colonists' imprisonment (and torture) of Vietnam national activists under French rule. Finally, I ended my day at the Museum of Vietnam History, near Hoan Kiem Lake.
All of these things were interesting, and you should definitely check out my photos from the album linked at the bottom of this post, but nothing from my day compared to the evening. I had tickets to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.
Now, I am a former theater techie and have a huge thing for puppets and whatnot, so I was already really excited about seeing the water puppets in Vietnam. It's a unique art form to the northern half of the country, developed as a way to appease the gods and entertain villagers when the rice fields overflowed (which happens a lot in a country that is essentially at sea level). The program featured 17 songs, each with unique puppets and motions. It was difficult to get pictures because the puppets moved so quickly and naturally, but that didn't stop me from taking a lot!
Finally, one of the excerpts I filmed, the "Dragon Dance":
I was completely mesmerized by the performance. I want to try it! Maybe next time.
Check out the rest of my pictures from the day's adventures. There are photos from most of the museums (though not of President Minh because cameras were not permitted inside the Mausoleum) and the lake as well as some random propaganda seen around town and other fun pictures:
|Around Hanoi (museums, etc.)|