Our hotel is in a really great location. It’s walking distance to everything we wanted to see while in Hanoi.
Today we went first to the temple in the middle of the lake (Den Ngoc Son). For US$1, you can cross the bridge to the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the temple.
The temple also has a great view of Tortoise Tower. The legend behind Tortoise Tower is the same as “The Sword in the Stone”, except this sword is in the shell of a tortoise.
Then we walked along the shores of the lake, en route to the Museum of Vietnamese Women. That was a really interesting museum. I really learned a lot about life in Vietnam. A lot of the indigenous societies are matriarchal. There were some really powerful stories and exhibits.
From there it was a straight short walk to Hoa Lo Prison. The prison is now a museum as well. It’s where you can see how the French imprisoned the Vietnamese (pre 1954). Those were some rough conditions.
From 1964 -1973 it became known as the Hanoi Hilton. The same prison was where the Vietnamese imprisoned American pilots during the war. (The area explaining this part of the prison’s history is very small, but informative.)
Next we had a quick peak at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. And then it was on to lunch / dinner at a small café across the street. There, we met a friendly German couple and we stayed and chatted with them for a few hours.
Our last stop of the day (at 9:15pm) was to the Water Puppet Show.
Water Puppets are like reverse marionettes. The puppeteer stands about up to their waist in water, and manipulates the puppets in front of them. (During the show, the audience never sees the puppeteer. They are always behind a curtain.)
The puppets dance on the water to traditional music and enact traditional stories and fables.
The most expensive seats in the house are US$5. Well worth it for the front row seats. The show lasts about an hour, and is a really fun, if touristy, experience.