There were very few things left for us to do in Hanoi on our third day. And because both Jacq and I were already feeling under the weather by this time, due mostly to the unending mist and drizzle that we had on our first day. So, we took our last day in Hanoi a bit easy.
First, we checked out of the hotel and then proceeded to the nearby Pho 10 for our brunch. After that, we went for a walk at the French Quarter, following the vicinity map that the hotel gave us. The French Quarter was a quieter version of the Old Quarter but we failed to see any of the impressive architecture that it was known for. We were only able to see the Opera House.
We then headed back to the Hoan Kiem Lake to see the Turtle Temple and the Ngoc Son Temple. And were we very disappointed by what we saw! Sans the colored lights from the previous night, the Turtle Temple, set against a backdrop of grey lake mirroring a grey sky, looked like a tiny abandoned building.
The same was true for the Ngoc Son Temple or the Temple of the Jade Mountain. Just the same, we paid the 20,000 VND entrance fee, walked the Huc Bridge or the Welcoming Morning Sunlight Bridge and checked out the temple.
After that, we headed to the City View Café, located on the fifth floor of one of the buildings near the lake. As the name implies, City View Café promises a great view of Hanoi. But as it was winter, we didn’t get to see much. And just to get it off our to-do list, we went up (thank God there was an elevator) the café and took some time to write our postcards while enjoying a cup of filtered café nau.
As I was already running low on dong, I changed some money at the Tourist Info Center near the Hoan Kiem Lake. I was first puzzled because I got less than the amount displayed but they explained to me that they have a service charge. I should’ve had the receptionist at the hotel change some money for me.
Anyway, we mailed our postcards and headed to the Water Puppet Theater to buy some tickets. We got tickets for the 8:00pm show for 100,000 VND each. Then, it was time to go shopping! Jacq already bought some pasalubong at the store near the Theater but I still insisted that we go to the Dong Xuan Market. Being already tired, we took a cab and reached the Dong Xuan Market very quickly. The place was a bit claustrophobic-making and I didn’t see a lot of pasalubong material there. But, ee were able to buy some Vietnamese coffee to take home. Then we took a cab to Duc Kim Bun Cha to have some dinner. Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy it very much.
We walked back to the hotel to deposit our stuff and headed back to the Water Puppet Theater area so I can buy some other pasalubong. Apparently, the shops near the theater were cheaper than those near our hotel. We were still early for the 8:00pm show so we ate a bit at the Helio Vietnam Specialty Coffee next door where I had some pain au chocolat and chocolate ice cream. Yes, I had ice cream in Hanoi even if it was winter! And the ice cream was so good!
Then it was time for the Water Puppet show, the activity that is guaranteed to wrap up the entire Hanoi experience. The show was composed of 14 different performances made by wooden puppets who appear to dance in the water. This puppet play dates as far back as the 11th century when villagers would entertain themselves whenever the rice fields were flooded. Inside the theater, we found out that it was not Caucasian-friendly at all. The seats were small and the spaces were cramped that even me, with my très petite frame was feeling a bit claustrophobic. Anyhow, the show was entirely in Vietnamese, but the movements of the water puppets were enough so the audience can pretty much understand what was happening. Plus, there were some description cards, available in a variety of languages, near the entrance. Anyway, my favorite part in the show was the dragon dance where dragon water puppets did some synchronized swimming while “breathing fire”.
The show lasted for 50 minutes and contrary to the sign posted outside of the theater, there was no extra charge for taking pictures during the show. We headed back to the hotel afterwards and we got there just in time for our taxi ride to the airport.
And with that, our trip was done and I am looking forward to going back to Vietnam… but to Ho Chi Minh next time. ^___~