A late start to the day but we were still down to breakfast for 9am (fresh fruit, croissant, French toast and syrup and coffee-thanks for asking).
We decided that a trip to Hanoi would not be complete without a little wander down to Bang Trang for the handmade ceramics. I was slightly overexcited as the last time I was in this situation (Marrakesh with McCadden) I got very carried away and had to sneak ma-hoosive bowls through security in my hand luggage-however these bowls still get compliments 5 years on so they must have been worth it!
We had to get a taxi to our destination as it's about 13km away. Our cab driver insisted on waiting with the meter off so that we had a lift back (mainly because he didn't want to return without any passengers, but it helped us so we didn't complain). Along the journey we saw more old fashioned Vietnamese style houses popping up out of masses if green areas. (Vietnam is very green)
Once there we were greeted with beautiful ceramics. Half of them didn't have prices on which meant we would be expected to barter, so we sought out the stalls with prices instead. I wanted to get sooooo much, but was limited by my luggage allowance back to the UK. Plus there are a large amount of leather bags I still need to squeeze into my case. I got a green leaf style platter and 4 noodle/broth bowls-so expect me to start trialling Vietnamese dishes in the kitchen!
Our journey back seemed much quicker than the journey there but we weren't complaining! Taxis here seem more expensive than anywhere else we've been to, whether than is Vietnam or simply because we are westerners and they see a walking bank when they look at us-I don't know!
Once back in Hanoi we booked our tickets for the infamous water puppet show and purchased a bag or two to help us carry back our heavy load.
(Tom-our tour guide yesterday-said that to truly be in Vietnam you needed to 1. Visit Ha long bay 2. Eat pho 3. See the water puppet show and 4. Drink local beer. We've managed all but the local beer as we stuck to Tiger. But really we've had enough local beer over the last two and a half weeks so I'm sure we can say yes to that one too.)
Our afternoon was filled with visiting the huge lake in the old quarter, hiding from the rain in a coffee bar, shopping, hiding from the rain in a roof top bar over looking the lake and more shopping.
Finally it was time for the water puppet show.
I can honestly say the following things about my time at the water puppet theatre:
-I've never seen anything like it in my life
-it's amazing how they control the puppets without being seen (Laura was most amazed, but then she couldn't see the long poles under the water-clearly my lenses are stronger!)
-Vietnamese singing is quite interesting
-they managed to sound a bit 'folky' at times, probably because of the banjo I spotted
-that was an hour of my life I'll never get back.
They are clearly very talented, but I don't speak Vietnamese and neither did 70% of the audience so the understanding was not quite there!
After the show we popped up to another place overlooking the lake and had some local dishes with a beer. Food was outstanding, Laura had a seafood rice dish in a clay pot whilst I had stir fried beef with rice, veg and a fried egg-yummy.
A very relaxing day after yesterday's travelling!