Temples and enthnology and puppets

All good things… the last full day in Hanoi, but at least it was to be a good one. Starting with lunch in Pepperoni’s, which now has several branches in the city. I stuck to the old favourite near the hostel, though.

Then off to the Temple of Literature. A biker outside the hostel had tried to charge us 50,000D for the ride (each, using two bikes) and seemed offended by our refusal. As we walked off, one of his mates caught up with us and offered the ride for 25,000 with us both on the same moped. Leah panicked for all of 3 seconds then agreed. Good girl!

With my sandals in my hand so they wouldn’t fall off, we zipped through the streets and prayed he’d not get stopped by the police (I didn’t have a helmet and he’s only alowed to carry one passenger) but we had no problems. At the Temple, we gave him 30,000 partly as he’d had the cheek to make fun of Leah’s size. Brave man. I’ve covered the Temple before in another post, so I’ll not wax lyrical here about it.

Next stop was the Museum of Ethnology and we were about to flag down a taxi when two xe om drivers gave us a good price to head up there. They turned out to be a great pair of guys, all fun and games, not at all pushy and became our companions for the rest of the afternoon. Again, I’ve covered the museum in detail elsewhere so I won’t repeat things, other than to highly recommend it to visitors.

We had time for an hour at Blue Dragon where we got to see a workshop they’ve started up so the kids can learn how to repair biked and car engines. Smashing idea. I also met Van again, the wonderful guy who showed me around Hanoi when I was working for BDCF the first time. He’s now married with a little kid of his own! And his only quibble was that he didn’t know I was coming so he couldn’t arrange to take me out. What a guy.

A little more time playing rock/paper/scissors with some of the smaller children and we went outside to get our motos… only we couldn’t see them. They’d popped round the corner for a beer and were checking intermittently for us reappearing! We could easily have hopped on two more bikes and vanished, but they’d been genuinely great guys so we weren’t about to screw them over.

They had offered to chat to us over a beer, but our water puppet tickets restricted our free time and they got us to the show as the doors were opening. We overpaid for their time/distance but the extra was well worth it for the fun we’d had and it was still peanuts.

Once more, water puppets are in an earlier post though I think the show is now a little shorter than it used to be. Not a bad thing as I felt it dragged the first time I saw it. We’d also gone for the 20000d “cheap” tickets this time and the only difference was being seated further back.

We decided to have dinner in a new restaurant next door to the city view, above a posh clothes shop. It has a balcony, but unfortunately the rain and wind made this unusable and we walked down a floor to their inside room instead. A great decision as we ended up with our personal waitress, a room to ourselves and a TV with the remote control… and an absolutely superb meal. It was the Bon Mua (a Hapro restaurant) at 38-40 Le Thai To Street, just opposite the north bank of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Bia Hoi next (for a change) where we met some folk we’d bumped into on the first night. Leah tried some of the dried squid sold on the street and declared it tasted like “smelly feet”, but struggled to get rid of it. The problem being that the woman who sold it had to get the little plastic plate back and she kept watching us so we couldn’t throw the food away! Back at the hostel, we had time for one quick beer before a comparatively early night in our crowded but comfy dorm.

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