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Home » Hanoi

Getting lost in the Old Quarter, again…

Submitted by on 08/09/2008 – 4:05 pmNo Comment

Hundreds of paper lanterns in Hanoi Old Quarter

The old quarter and all its hustle and bustle has kept us pretty busy for the last 3 days, Friday night we were out wandering as usual and stumbled across a night market, not just any night market either… It was made up of mainly garish masks, brightly coloured lanterns and children’s toys, loud flashing children’s toys. I can’t believe we hadn’t spotted it before because it was just around the corner from where we are staying. Its squeezed down the middle of the already narrow streets running through the old quarter and it spills from the shops on either side as well leaving just enough room to squeeze along and dodge the mopeds. As we ventured further in it got more and more crowded and loads more crazy. It made the day time old quarter look reserved and spacious, it was certainly an experience, an assault on the senses, well more like having your senses raped! After a few hours being completely lost in the flashing lights and screaming children, oh and the beeping mopeds of course, we were shot to bits… Literally, also Georgie wasn’t quite back to normal and still felt a little under the weather so we headed back to our room and off to the land of nod.
Every day we start with good intentions of shopping for things we actually want and need, trying to squeeze in maybe a little culture and some top grub… And every day we fail, we end up wandering about looking at tat and other stuff we really don’t need, hypnotised by the charm and hustle of the old quarter. So yesterday we tried to get up early especially to have a day of culture and the like and actually managed it… Well we didn’t get up early but hey… We started the day at the nearby Hoan Kiem lake where there are said to be magical lucky tortoises lurking about and there is a small island temple dedicated to a pickled tortoise they pulled out years ago… It killed a few hours but we didn’t get lucky and spot a live one…
After the lake we went to the traditional water puppet theatre to pick up tickets for an evening show, then carried on wandering along the side of the lake and all the way to the French quarter, again we were in and out of most of the shops along the way looking at tat we really don’t need but it was nice anyway and the French quarter was a welcome change with its bigger open spaces and more metropolitan feel while still being home to lots of really large period buildings all slightly decayed and really quite pretty.
At 6:30 we went along to the water puppet theatre for our evening show, it turned out to be really good, we got some traditional Vietnamese music thrown in and although all the dialogue was in Vietnamese it was easy to follow because the puppets were so articulate and its all done on long submerged sticks under the water from behind the backdrop.
The show only lasted about an hour or so and after that we ended up having a beer or three at the terrace bar nearby watching the utter madness of the mopeds again…
This morning though we did actually get up nice and early and headed off to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum complex for another shot of culture. Its a little further away from the old quarter than we have ventured so far but none the less it was pretty interesting, we started off at his mausoleum itself which unfortunately was closed so we could only admire it from the outside and not actually catch a glimpse of the pickled fella but it was still quite a cool place. Then we looked around his houses and palace where he lived and worked then finally to the museum, which was a really good museum, a little surreal but there’s nothing wrong with that…
We are still hanging around for our visa extensions to come back and will be until Tuesday probably before we can start making tracks for Halong Bay so until then more of the same I think…

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Aaron Bradford has written 659 articles. +Aaron Bradford is the leader, mentor and chief geek of HappyTimeblog. He put together the crack team of writers known by codename “The Firm“. He's a permanent traveller and a lifestyle hacker. Wanna know more? Check out my Bucket List or my About page... I'm here to show you how to live a Life Less Ordinary

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