Day 36 Hanoi

Our Hotel was in the French Quarter, which is a lively residential / retail area.
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Started the morning with a Cafe au Lait  and a couple of pastries in an imitation French bakery.  The nice dark chocolate on the pastry made up for the less inspiring baking. 

Took a taxi to visit the Ethnography Museum, which got good ratings in the guide book.  Was a very well done museum with a survey of all the current ethnic groups in Vietnam, a very positive and contemporary perspective on the various peoples, each in turn, with a nod to their history.  Many nice objects, some fantastic handicrafts, and good videos and stills of contemporary rituals. 
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Outside the main building there are traditional houses  rebuilt in  a park environment.  Some beautiful buildings, which visitors can walk/climb through, and other features, including a water puppet theatre.
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Watched some of the water puppet performances, which were charming.  Nice music, lots of action.  Kept adults and kids amused.
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There were also some women dancing what appeared to be traditional steps to recorded music.  One lady was clearly the leader/instructor, and the other women were working hard to keep in step.
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After lunch in a little stree-side restaurant which served the lovely “Bia Hoy”, which is very young, light, beer out served draught, a large number of us went on a city tour organized by Timmy.  First stop was a visit to the Hanoi prison, where VietCong had been held by the French, and American pilots were held by the Vietnamese.  A grim place, with lots of reminders of the cruelties of war, and a veneer of propaganda which is inevitable in a war museum.
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We were cheered up by going to the professional water puppet show, which was much more professional than the museum one, with  a substantial band, and ten puppet manipulators.  Again, a good show.
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We toured around old Hanoi on foot for a while, and then all got into individual pedi-cabs and toured some more, ending up at a restaurant for a nice dinner.
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Hanoi streets are amazingly busy at night, everybody is out and about, shopping, selling, eating, serving, and cruising about. Some couples get their wedding pictures taken outside the name brand stores in the fancy mall around the Hotel Metropole.
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