Short but sweet.
That’s how I’d describe our trip to Hanoi. 24 hours was definitely not enough to explore the city. First of all, the weather was just amazing! From the blistering heat of Saigon, Hanoi was like a breath of fresh air. The temperature ranged from 11 – 19 degrees Celsius, which was perfect for me. I got to wear my boots, yay!
Anyway, our guide this time, Ms. Xuan, picked us up from the airport and we immediately proceeded with our half day city tour. Here are the places that we visited:
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
This was the perfect “Hello, welcome to Hanoi!” place. It was majestic actually, seeing that whole area for the first time. Everything was clean, and the sky was clear. We didn’t get to go inside though, as the Mausoleum only opens in the morning. Ms. Xuan says that in the morning, the lines to go see Ho Chi Minh are really long, so going there early in the morning is a must.
- Temple of Literature
A Confucian temple dedicated to education, this temple is where students go to pray if they want to pass an important test or any kind of school requirement. (I wish there was something like this in Manila. I definitely would have gone! Haha) In fact, it is not uncommon to see students in their togas having their picture taken there. Of course, we got to see some too!
- Hoa Lo Museum (Hanoi Hilton)
This was the place Papa enjoyed very much. This prison used to be where the French imprisoned their Vietnamese captives. It was particularly horrifying because back then the prisoners were all bound together by their ankles on one uncomfortable bed. Those in solitary confinement had their ankles bound too, only that their beds were angled in such a way that they will not be able to lie down comfortably without their blood rushing to their heads. Apparently, this is how the French try to kill their Vietnamese captives – slowly.
During the Vietnam War, Hoa Lo Prison became a place where the North Vietnamese imprisoned American pilots who would crash in their territory.
- Water Puppet Show
This was very nice and enjoyable. The craftsmanship in how the make the puppets and how they get them to do the things that they do is amazing. I wouldn’t really recommend it if you’re in a hurry though. The show lasts an hour and honestly, after the first 15 minutes, everything looks a bit the same.
- Hoan Kiem Lake
This wasn’t really part of the tour per se, but since the Water Puppet theater was just across the street, my sister and I hung out there for a bit. There are lots of restaurants around the lake where you can just sit down, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the scenery.
Oh, there’s also a night market around the area. My sister and I went and we got to buy pasalubong for our helpers and our friends back home. The stuff were so cheap, we couldn’t find it in ourselves to still haggle! Hahaha!
I can’t help but feel bitin at the Hanoi leg of our tour. We didn’t even get to visit the other districts. 😦 Good think it’s very close to Manila so we can just fly in there anytime.