Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hanoi Explorations... Part 2

This is my new friend Nga. We met through Couchsurfing - a website for international cultural exchange. On my second day in Hanoi, Nga took me on a motorcycle ride around the West Lake area of the city. She rides a little Yamaha scooter that is similar to a Honda wave or Honda cub. It seems that everyone in Hanoi rides a motorcycle or scooter.
The first thing that we saw was this lake that was filled with lotus blossoms.
My understanding is that the lotus blossoms only appear at this time of year for about one or two months. Good timing. 
As we were riding around the lake we saw some fishermen. I told Nga that I enjoy fishing and brought a fishing rod and reel with me. But I did not have any hooks, lures or fishing gear. We just happen to pass by a store that actually had some fishing equipment. These are handmade bobbers that were for sale.
These are the hook and weight systems that the local fishermen were using. It seemed to be a series of hooks tied to the center of a wait. I suppose that when the fish strikes the string is pulling through the weight and the hooks are set. I didn't really understand how this system worked, so I inquired if they had just basic hooks and weights. They did, so I bought some. 
We continued on our little excursion. We stopped at this coffeehouse for break. Supposedly this coffeehouse has existed since the 1930s. Their specially was of course coffee with condensed milk, but they also had a selection of ice coffees smoothies. I tried it frozen ice coffee and it was absolutely delicious.
They roasted and grounded their own beans.
Tasty Vietnamese coffee.
Nga tried a coffee and yogurt drink. Mine was just a tall glass of iced coffee goodness.
We drove around town bit more and came across the Military Museum. The museum was closed, so I didn't have a chance to go inside, but on the outside there were a number displays. This large pile of metal was a downed USA B-52 bomber. 
Nga dropped me off at another museum. This is the ethnic Museum of Hanoi.
This museum showcased a number of artifacts and items of the various ethnic groups in Vietnam.
There is a bicycle hidden under this collection of bamboo fishing traps.
This is a weaving loom used by many of the tribe people of Vietnam.
The looms were used to create a variety of materials used for clothing or other household products.
This is the inside of a model bamboo long house. I'll show you a real long house later. 
There was the main building of the museum which housed most of the displays. But on the outside to the right there was a new building which housed a collection of artifacts and items from a number of countries in Southeast Asia. The real treat for me was that this building was air-conditioned... a chance to cool down.
Weavings from various places in Southeast Asia.
Woven clothing items from Southeast Asia.
This is elaborate outfit was worn by a people group from the northern part of Vietnam.
Outside of the two main buildings there were other displays of relocated and restored dwellings.
This is a traditional house made of bamboo and a thatch roof.
The main room or bedroom consisted of a woven bamboo mat, two pillows and some jars for storing personal items. Pretty simple and minimalistic, but I like it.
There was also a collection of other jars and vessels tucked away in a corner of the house.
This is a different type of living structure... a stilt house. It was also made of bamboo and wood. 
This item in front appears to be a baby bassinet made of bamboo.
As promised, here is an actual long house. To access the house one climbed up one of the two staircases. The longhouse stretched for probably about 100 feet.
The long houses often had pillars with carvings. Outside there was collection of everyday tools such as baskets and fishing traps.
Inside the longhouse there was a super long bench that appeared to be made from one continuous piece of wood. I suppose and that families or friends would gather inside a long house to discuss the daily news or family issues. The long houses had some large areas for meetings and the houses were also subdivided into smaller areas for sleeping. The long houses appeared to be designed for communal living.
This structure was actually used for burial ceremonies. The little house appeared to be similar to a long house but had space to accommodate perhaps eight bodies. On the outside of the structure were carvings of men and women in precarious positions. 
As I walked around the grounds I came across this little goat. He appeared to be keeping the shrubbery trimmed and the grounds in good condition.
This is a Vietnamese water puppet.
The water puppets have been used to tell traditional Vietnamese folktales. The puppet masters would position themselves in the water and behind a screen, then lift the puppets above the water. 
As my day wrapped up, I had a chance to check out one of the puppet shows. I'll post a video later. 

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