Vietnam is over 1200 miles long and the weather in Hanoi was much more temperate then where we had been. While we were there, the temperature was in the low 70s with not much change at night. It also drizzled most of the time we were there. The city was extremely clean, with its own charm, and very busy, with motorcycles everyone. The old city center was quite dense and frenetically busy. One has to be extremely careful when crossing the streets as the motorcycles do NOT stop for pedestrians.
The hotel is located in the old part of Hanoi and was really a lovely place. It is located in the old section of Hanoi, with street names changing on each block. The hotel, like most of the buildings in the old quarter and in many other parts of Hanoi are very very skinny.
|Examples of skinny buildings|
|Desk with computer and Internet, of course, and fresh flowers|
|Very nice beds with flower petals strewn on the cover|
|Rose on bed and personal note for International Women's Day--so nice!|
|Larger room with balcony door and elephant towels on bed--so cute!|
The hotel provided the best map we ever got on the trip of the local area, and it was on very heavy paper so it lasted well.
|Back of the map lists places of interest to see--it really was helpful|
We walked 2+ blocks to the Dong Xuan (wholesale) Market. It was a huge building with rows and rows of sellers, bustling with people.
|Outside huge wholesale market|
|A stand of small items|
|Material and more material|
|View from 2nd floor staircase looking down|
We walked over to (West) Lake, the largest lake inside the city. The promenade was very nice and we stopped for a lunch of Pho.
|Pho for lunch|
|View of lake from promenade|
|Loved this tree!|
There were plenty of ATMs near the lake but fewer by our hotel in the old city.
|View of lake through hazy drizzle|
|What great roots!|
When we returned from Sapa, Marcy and I went to the Museum of Ethnology, an absolutely amazing, modern place. Here is its website.
The museum is divided in a number of parts including:
1) History and culture of the various ethnic groups in Vietnam
2) Houses of different groups, brought to the museum and placed outside
3) A special exhibit entitled "As We Grow Up"
|The layout of the museum, inside and outside|
|Layout inside first floor of the museum|
In 2009, about 86,000,000 people lived in Vietnam, with 54 ethnic groups, the Viet being the main one and 53 minority groups. Each ethnic group is distinct but does share some traditions with other groups. They have been influenced by China, India, and Southeast Asia. Also western cultural factors have been incorporated in some of the traditions in recent years.
Most of the groups grow rice--either wet or swidden agriculture--together with raising chickens, collecting, hunting and fishing. They also make handicrafts and are involved in some commerce. The village has been the center of social life for centuries.
Austronesians live in Vietnam and Cambodia but most live in Indonesia, the Philippines, and other surrounding areas. In Vietnam five ethnic groups speak Austronesian languages.
90,000,000 people in SE Asia speak Tai-Kadai languages. 8 ethnic groups in Vietnam speak this language base. These people originated in China but centuries ago migrated southward and settled as far away as India.
Austroasiatics is a language family with about 50 ethnic groups and 100,000,000 people throughout Asia. Some came together to form nations such as Vietnam and Cambodia. Most SE Asians descent from Austroasiatic speakers. This is the largest language family in Vietnam and includes Viet--Moung and Mon--Khmer peoplew with 25 ethnic groups throughout the country.
The Miao-Yao (also called Hmong--Mien) ethno-linguistic family has about 10,000,000 people living in Vietnam, China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). This group migrated from southern China over time (although the majority still live in China) and local groups vary in customs and clothing. In Vietnam there are 3 ethnic groups in this family.
The map below shows the diversity of languages throughout Vietnam.
|A load on a bike of a businessman|
|Examples of water puppets|
|Even Facebook was used to illustrate points|
The cafe was a special project to teach disadvantaged youth how to work in a restaurant. We saw and ate at a branch in Sapa also.
We went into several of the outdoor homes that were transferred to this museum, saw others from the outside, and were fascinated by the houses and the care taken to bring and preserve them for national history.
The Viet house below originally belonged to a wealthy family built in 1906 in the Tho Xuan area. The house was expanded in 1933 and housed multi-generations.
A fascinating display of water puppets and a history of them was inside this house.
|Pieces of ancient animal water puppets|
Hai Duong province historically has been a center for the art of puppetry. Since 1993, the water puppet troupe in the area has gradually been revival and a training workshop has brought young puppeteers into the fold. Now the new troupe has 21 puppeteers from ages 38 to 77.
Legend says that puppetry has existed in Dong Cac since the 14th century. In 1929, a puppetry troupe was officially set up. A fire in 1936 destroyed almost all of the puppets, but many more were made after 1949. The Dong puppets are smaller than those of the first group mentioned but "more beautifully crafted and painted" with a specialized mechanism.
Puppets are made today and new plays have been written. Puppets are made from old ficus trees. It is a light wood which floats easily, has few knots, and does not easily break. Traditional waterproof pain is used to cover the puppet. Hong Phong puppets usually highlight black, green, pink and yellow.
There was also a water puppet theater in the outside area. We heard that performance were amazing.
|Bahnar Communal House, front view|
|Ede House brought from southern Vietnam|
|Columns in an Ede house|
|Large tomb house|
The Cotu Tomb is for the second funeral for wealthy people in the Cotu society. The coffin is dug up for a second ceremony. Carvings of water buffalo heads, iguanas, tring birds, fern leaves, atut leaves or sadly sitting figures are common decorations in Cotu tombs. Each tomb can contain 4 or 5 bodies from within a family.
The Hmong house below was built in 1984 in De Cho Cha A village in Yen Bai province in northern Vietnam a a Flower Hmong family. When the museum bought the house, seven Flower Hmong villages came to reconstruct it on the useum grounds. It took six days. It is made of "pomu" wood, a tree common to the area. The roof is covered with 600 large shingles, some of which can be moved so the women who weave inside the house can see. The house was built traditionally with axes, chisels, and knives.
I didn't have time to go to the Museum of Women before my flight but Marcy later went and said it was astounding. It was rated #3 by Trip Advisor of places to see in Hanoi. Unfortunately, the website for the museum in English is not available. I could only access it in Vietnamese. http://www.womenmuseum.org.vn/
I flew home that evening and Marcy had one more day, so below is our fairwell picture, taken by staff at the Hotel Charming II. I finally had a chance to wear the skirt! (I do like wearing skirts on flights.) It was the end of a great trip. I owe a lot to Marcy for suggesting it as I never would have considered going if it were not for her.
There is still one more blog to come about our experiences in Sapa.