After our van-train-taxi day we were quite pleased to be back in our hotel in Ha Noi. Even the constant beeping and noise of Ha Noi seemed OK after that. We had planned to spend just a day here but decided to make it two, just to have some time to chill.
The highlight of being here was seeing a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show. It was much better than either of us expected, not only did we get to sit in a quiet hall in the second row (no beeping for an hour was worth the ticket price alone!) we also got to hear some live Vietnamese music which is very calm and beautiful, and see the water puppets. The tradition was invented centuries ago by rice farmers during the rainy season for entertainment. They would make puppet shows in the flooded rice paddies and all the other farmers would come and watch. The scenes depicted all sorts of things – from water buffalo fights, a young couple falling in love, dragons fighting, horse races, rice planting, coconut harvesting and the coming of prosperity. It was very entertaining and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now that we know all our local restaurants, coffee places, street food vendors etc it has been easy to navigate Ha Noi and spend as little time on the streets as possible. We went to the lake again, spent a frustrating hour in the post office (doesn’t pay to be a foreigner if you want to get anything done!) and basically just chilled in our hotel. Tomorrow we are going to the famed Halong Bay, and will hopefully stay on Cat Ba island for a while if we like it. We will report back soon :-) Our photos are here.