Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ha Noi

Sightseeing highlights in Ha Noi

1. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and his residence

2. Ho Chi Minh Museum

3. The bustling back street of Old Quarter

4. Temple of Literature

5. Water Puppets show

6. Quan an ngon restaurant
7. Others

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and his residence

Admission to Ho Che Minh’s mausoleum is free, 8 –11 am Tue Thu. Contrary to his desire of simple cremation, the mausoleum was constructed of native materials gathered from all over the country between 1973 and 1975. We were caught in school holiday. Many students came as an excursion to pay respect to their great leader. The queue was long for the locals. There was a separate queue for foreigners. The military guard regulated the flow and moved the queue quickly. Just before entering the mausoleum, the guard made sure that you took off your cap and no bear back (shoulder) for the lady. No camera was allowed and we had to surrender it when we went to security check. No picture was taken.

Just next to the mausoleum, you would find Ho Chi Minh's stilt house and his residence. He lived in this house for a couple of year before he moved into the stilt house which is opposite. The picture with the guard is the basement of the stilt house. The pond in front of the house is filled with carps.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

The Museum is next to the mausoleum. This makes it idea to cover three locations in one morning. According to Lonely Planet, photography is not allowed, no one stopped us taking photo inside. If you are interested in the history of Ho Chi Minh and how he won the war, this would be the place to visit.

The Old Quarter

This is like our old China town and Sungei Road combined but 10 times bigger. Every street would specialise in selling one type of goods. There are more than 50 streets within the Old Quarter. For example, there is a street for toys, a street for towels, etc.. It is worth spending half a day just strolling the Old Quarter. The easier way out is to take a trishaw ride through the old quarter. Samples of the Old Quarter :

Temple of Literature
It was founded in 17d06 by Emperor Ly Nhan Tong who dedicated it to Confucius, in order to honour scholars. In 1484, Rmperor Le Thanh TOng ordered that stelae be elected to record the name, place of birth, achievement of men who received doctorates in triennial exam held from 1442. There are 82 stelae in this temple. Many students came to pay repect to Confucius and pray for good results for their examination. The students believed that by touching the stelae and the turtle head would bring them luck and score good grade.

There was a performace in one of the chamble while we were there. The ladies were dressed up in their traditional custom playig tVietnamese traditional musics.

Water Puppets Show
Modern, water puppetry is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The puppets are carved out of wood and often weigh up to 15 kg. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. Singers of Cheo (a form of opera) with origin in north Vietnam sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets. At the end of the show, the puppeteers came to the front and took a bow.
Quan an ngon
Teng Lam took us to this local hawker centre restaurant called Quan an ngon. It was really crowded. We had to take a queue number and wait outside. Quán Ăn Ngon is a popular restaurant in Ha Noi , which offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese street food. After you got your table, a waiter or waiteress would follow up around to order your favorite dishes. Unless hawker centre in Singapore, you don't pay at the time of order. Ask for your bill when you are done. The waiter or waiteress would bring you the bill.

Eviva Tours

We took the opportunity to visit Eviva Tours, THuan's company and thank them for a job well done. Eviva Tours provided the service to secure all the approvals from various government department to make our travel by road possible. We met with Ms Nguyen, the General Director, Ms Trang (red dress) and Ms Duong (Piink dress) and thank them for their service. Eviva Tours specializes in in-bound tours and cross country road tour. Last year, they organized a road tour for a group of vintage car from Laos to Vietnam.

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