Day one hundred and thirty-three: February 9, 2016: Hanoi
We arrived in Hanoi mid-day giving us a full afternoon and evening in the city. After checking in at our hotel we set out on foot to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater to get tickets for later that evening. Just as Jonathan walked up to the window to ask about tickets, the woman put up a sign stating that all shows for the day were sold out. As we stepped back to decide on what to do, a tour guide and his two guests walked up and were able to purchase tickets. I asked him if there was any way I could purchase the tickets thru him but he said there was no way. To our luck, he mentioned there was another theater across the lake! So we hustled to the other theater only to discover that they would not open for another hour or so. Since we hadn't eaten yet we decided to see if a nearby banh mi restaurant was open. After walking for 30 minutes, we sadly found it to be closed. We headed back to the theater as they would be opening soon and we didn't want to miss out on any available tickets. As we waited for them to open we met an older couple from the UK who were in the same situation as ourselves. We waited together and once they opened their doors we anxiously held our money hoping to get tickets. The woman selling tickets initially said that all tickets were sold out, but Jonathan half jokingly asked "can we stand in the back?" and she replied "hold on". A more promising answer than no right? It turns out that the last row on the upper floor all the way in the back were still unsold. We asked if we could go up and see what the view looked like. It wasn't too bad, so we bought two of the last six seats for the show that evening.
Next task, find food! With it still being Tet, we decided to give up on the restaurants I had researched and just find something that was open and looked good. As we walked down some more busy streets we found some small restaurants spilling out onto the street and stopped for some pho bo.
As we strolled around the streets exploring we came to the full realization that it was Tet and people had closed down to spend time with their families. On one side, disappointing because we weren't able to eat and explore the city as much as we wanted to, but on the flip side we were happy to see people actually taking time off to spend with their families. Something that doesn't always happen back home.
We headed back to the theater a little before the start of the show and settled into our seats in the back row. The view wasn't actually too bad, plus you could stand since there were no seats behind us.
After the show, we hit the streets again in search of food and settled for some more Pho Bo and tried some Bánh Cuốn, which is steamed rice rolls stuffed with minced pork and chopped wood-ear mushrooms topped with toasted garlic. Yum!
- Highly recommend: One Day Tour - A Historical and Cultural Discovery of Hanoi