Good Afternoon,
At the lake.
A water puppet.
Guys hanging out on the street.
November 19, 2006

I have taken an instant liking to this city. I was close to saying ‘an instant liking to this country’ but that is a premature assessment as I haven’t
seen anything other than Hanoi at this point. So for now, I will just say that I really like Hanoi.

It is such a treat for the senses out here. I am sure not everybody would agree…but I feel like I was more in awe in my four hours that I have
been walking around than I was while I was in Thailand. Every time I turn around I see something that I want to capture with my camera. The
stalls, the hats, the motorbikes, the storefronts, the lake, the architecture…everything!

And I am already in love with the food out here. As lame as it sounds, it is just so clean and refreshing. I got a banana flower and prawn salad. I
loved this (most of the time) in Thailand – but I learned from one of my bad experiences that you always had to worry out there as you weren’t
sure if it would set your mouth on fire. Here this is no spice. No kick. Just a refreshing, somewhat citrusy salad.
Soooo good! And that’s just the
pure Vietnamese food. I haven’t even started talking about the French influence out here and how many cafés, pastry shops and French
restaurants are out here.

It is only 6pm right now but I really didn’t get any sleep last night. Once my sister left (at around 3am), I never really got back to sleep. Now I
feel headachy and ill due to it. I am going to take a quick nap because I bought a ticket for the 8pm ‘Water Puppets’ show. Have absolutely
idea what to expect from it. All I know is that it is something Hanoi is known for. I hope this nap works…


Ahhh… The nap was a success!

I went to the Water Puppets show. I must have made a good impression on the good at the ticket counter this afternoon because it turned out
she gave me a front-row seat. I ended up sitting next to a fellow lone traveler, Anna from London. Our schedules here are just off by one day of
each other (she leaves for Halong Bay tomorrow and I leave the following day) which is too bad because she would have been fun to travel
around with. Oh well. She was at least fun to sit with during this show.

As I said before, I had no idea what to expect from this show. I was more than impressed. The puppeteers who move these things are true
artists. There was a body of water that was the stage and the puppets moved so gracefully it looked like they were little people moving on their
own. There was a small orchestra off to the side. It was actually humorous looking at the people in this group as they looked entirely bored. One
guy was so bored, he resorted to picking his nose. For many consecutive minutes. Anna and I both nudged each other at the same time as we
both noticed this. Then it was all we could watch. He was digging. And digging. And digging. Lord knows what he was hoping to find up there.

Having said this, I can only conclude that it’s a South-East Asia thing that the picking of one’s nose can be done anytime, anywhere. Disgusting, if
you ask me. Every time I put my hand down in a public place (subway, etc.), I just know that I am most likely touching somebody’s buggars.

Anyway, the nose-picker eventually had to play an instrument which tied up his hands and I was now able to focus on the incredible puppets. I
never once looked at my watch or the program. This is a good sign as it meant I was never ready for the show to be over.

I ended the night at the Green Tangerine. A little nightcap of wine and dessert. And what an incredible setting. It was just like ‘Le Colonial’ at
home (which is a French-Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco). Except for that I was at a French-Vietnamese restaurant in
Vietnam. How
cool is that???
Back to Vietnam.