19-20, 23-25 Apr 2004.

After our night train from Sa Pa, we arrived at 6am in Hanoi. It was still misty, and there were local markets on the roads.

Hanoi sprawls alongside the red river (Song Hong), it is very cosmopolitan, sells great food and is buzzing with people trying to get you on their bike, cyclo, motorbike, tour....

The old quarter of Hanoi sits pleasantly around Hoan Kiem Lake, where you can sit with people necking each other in the shaded parks and boulevards.... Don't worry Jason has since told Claire to stop it!

Early morning around the lake and you see locals laughing and enjoying badminton.

These ladies try out their new fan steps. Behind them were people doing Thai Chi with swords.  Brilliant.

The bikes that Claire saw "8 years ago.... when I was last here" (boring, boring, boring... can someone tell her to shut-up please!) swarming the city streets have now been replaced with motorbikes who really don't seem to look and drive too fast. To cross the road you have to walk out into the road and hope you don't get hit.

.... there appear to be no road rules except for, if you can see it and you hit it it is your fault. Therefore people pull out all over the place without looking as it seems to be the responsibility of the person behind to avoid them.

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is here.  We got up early to see his pickled body that lies here. It was quite eerie to witness. We couldn't help but feel sorry for him as he wanted to be cremated, instead he is on display here for everyone to visit.  Apaaretnly its so popular, Vietnamese try and visit here at least once a year and most are visible shaken when they do so.

Jason wants to toughen up Claire's stomach with some traditional roadside food.

3 days later Claire is still playing crop dusters.

Political elections were taking place on the Sunday. That weekend, the very loud public speakers piped out the same music over and over again.  It was quite irritating and so, very communist propaganda... v.funny.

The water puppets, were great.  Over a thousand years ago rice farmers working in flooded plains got the idea to use water and puppets as a means of entertainment. The performances are based around mythical imagery such as dragons, unicorns, and animals from their daily lives. Puppeters stand behind bamboo screens waist deep in water to bring a very simple but entertaining traditional performance.

The museum of ethnology was brilliant.

This sculpture was dedicated to fertility and seems to very strongly resemble Jason's mate Lee Stanley.

This is how the bus tourists get about town.... we managed to avoid cyclos for the duration of Hanoi.

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