Friday, February 28, 2014

Temple of Literature

Our last stop in Hanoi was the Temple of Literature.
It seems that quite a few students come by for luck before testing.
A good luck charm is this stork on top of a turtle.
It is very lucky to rub the turtle so you can see that the turtle's head has had some serious rubbing. 
There are also alters for prayers.
Inside the temple are some gold pieces - you can't rub the gold turtle since it is encased.
There was also a courtyard with these giant bonsai as we left through the gate.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Walk to Vine

Our last dinner in Hanoi was at Vine which is a french themed restaurant.
We walked from the hotel and saw the crazy electrical lines where everyone draws power.
There were walls of wine bottles as decorations.
There were two menu choices.  I chose the fish menu and it was delicious.  It was probably one of the better salmon dishes I have eaten.
The bread and butter were also great.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heading Back to Hanoi

On the drive back to Hanoi after a relaxing cruise, we made a pit stop and had a quick lunch of pho and vietnamese sandwiches.
When we arrived in Hanoi, we were scheduled for a short tour around the city center.  We all got to ride these little electric buses.
There are no lights or traffic controls and we all inched our way through the intersections.  Here are a few of the scenes.
We stopped at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre for a water puppet show.
We sat pretty high up and the lighting was dim.
They had live music and singing with the opening a folk music composition with traditional musical instruments.

The water performance included 14 pieces with 400 items of ancient Vietnamese puppetry.

1. Prelude by clown Teu
2. Thang Long festival drumming
3. Dragon's dance
4. Buffalo-boy playing the flute
5. Agricultural work (rice-planting, soil-ploughing, water-scooping)
6. Catching frogs
7. Chasing the fox that tries to catch ducks
8. Fishing
9. Xa thuong: a melody in the collection of hymns dedicated to the cult of Holy Mothers, a folk belief of the Vietnamese people.  It is very familiar and appealing to the masses.
10. Phoenix's dance
11. Le Loi returning the sword: Le Loi was a national hero, leader of the resistance against foreign invasion in the 15th century.  Legend has it that he was granted a sword by deities.  After his victory over the invaders, one day he was boating on a lake in Hanoi, Kim Quy (Golden) Tortoise God appeared to claim back the sword.  Hence the name of the lake: "Returned Sword."  Now, it is a famous sight in the center of Hanoi.
12. Unicorn's dance
13. Eight fairies' dance
14. Four sacred animals' dance (dragon, unicorn, tortoise, phoenix).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chilly Chicago

Made it to Chicago where it was very chilly.  I was lucky to get a non-stop flight just in case something happens, then I could just go home and sleep in my own bed.  There were no problems and the flight took off on time.

On the way, all was white as far as the eye could see.
Arrived early afternoon and headed straight for the office.  It was a shock to step off the plane onto the jet way and feel that ice cold wind.

I was also lucky to stay across the street from my office at the Sofitel.  The room was tiny in comparison with the room I had in Cambodia, but everything was well appointed.
The bath was large with a separate shower and bath.
Since it was so cold, I opted for room service the first night with a very fancy caesar salad with chicken.
The view from my room was full of snow.
It did snow while I was there and I could see it from the office window.
On the way out, I was unlucky in that my flight was cancelled even though the plane was there, no crew could be found since they were trapped on the east coast.  I did get a comped room at the Marriott near the airport.
This was the view from the window.
I grabbed a late lunch in the hotel dining room.
It took most of the next day to get home since I had to route through Dallas and had a very long layover.  It was so nice to come home to the mild weather.

After unpacking, Pepper let me know that she would be coming along next time.