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Saturday, July 07, 2012

N Vietnam 2012 - Day 3, Part 5 - Water Puppets

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." - Plato


N Vietnam 2012
Day 3 - 26th May - Water Puppets
(Part 5)

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Cosplay expo

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Waiting opposite the museum for a local contact

One motorbike service vendor came by, and found I was waiting for someone. Surprisingly, he chatted with me for a while, which impressed me since I had no money for him. He asked the sex of the friend I was waiting for, and he said I was very lucky. I said he was more lucky as he was surrounded by Vietnamese girls daily, and he said one needed money. I replied that it was the same everywhere.

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Picture of one of the shit local motorcycle helmets. For some reason most were in the shape of baseball caps. Later I saw a variant with a hole for one's ponytail. Cute.

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Guy peeing into a crack in a tree. Well done.

There was a place beside a drain selling porridge. I wanted to try it but the smell from the drain made me lose my appetite.

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"Tits & Chip"

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"one actor performans two characters: the old man and the young wife. This make the performance more attractive and stimulates the audience's imagination"
Uhh I don't think so.

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Notice the price of the kebab has been redacted to cheat foreigners

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Alley Yen Thai

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It's hard to find information in English, but here's one site:

Herbal Growbust | Breast Enhancement

"According to customer feedback and the ingredients of Herbal Growbust, the pills work for most ladies’ breast enhancement. No, women’s bra sizes don’t change overnight, but their breast do become bigger and more firm in just a few months of daily use. Chests become fuller. Smiles become perkier, and women’s self esteem is a prevalent as ever...

there are no artificial dyes, pesticides or contaminants used in Herbal Growbust capsules"

Why you would put pesticides in a capsule is quite beyond me.

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"Great advice & Great service"
Blowing their own trumpet

I then had tea, since I hadn't had lunch (I had no time after the museum). It was a place the hostel had recommended the other day; all the places they recommended were sit-down stalls, not street food where one had to perch on stools. I wonder if this was to accommodate Western sensibilities.

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Bun cha (grilled pork slices with bee hoon)
The apple slices in fish sauce were interesting.
This was a large spread (3 laides came and got twice my meat portion - I guess they gave me the minimum serving). As usual, scroll down for the cost.

There's so much pork in Vietnamese (and Thai, from what I know) food. Yet in Singapore most Vietnamese and Thai places don't serve pork. Disgraceful.

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Seng gueh (sour plum) tea with ginger and maybe some other herbs

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"All you can take"
Drinks buffet? Maybe you can bring a jerry can

Before going for entertainment in the evening I returned to my room to rest a little.

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Hotel regulations: "Guests are not allowed to use their bedroom as liaison offices"

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False advertising. From the tone maybe the mannikins are from India.

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Possibly a colonial building

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"Minh Duc"
I know someone of Vietnamese origin of the same name

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"Vietnamese Traditional Food. Real Cold Beer Mate. Great Tucker Too. Competitively Priced"
Yeah, I was sick of being ripped off too.

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I was very happy to find this place. K stands for Korean. So they didn't rip me off.

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This cost me 15,000 VND or 20,000 VND (I forget). Given that it was imported from Korea, this was positively cheap.

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Presumably Hanoi's prime shopping centre

I then went for a Water Puppets show, Water Puppets being a form of puppetry where the puppeteers are hidden not by a screen but by water. Luckily I didn't rely on the show timings from the hostel - there was supposed to be a 2115 show, but it turned out that was only on Wednesdays (there was an additional session on Sunday morning but I had other things to do in the day)

Again, there was a camera/video-camera fee. I told the ticket counter person that I had a camera and was told that I could pay inside. In the end there was nowhere to pay. Maybe the camera fees are for show, and I was the only sucker who paid them.

There were 2 categories of tickets - first and second class. I asked for a ticket and was given a first class (100K VND) one. Second class ones cost 60K. As it turned out the theatre was small so it made no difference.

Coincidentally, the Filipino couple from the Ha Long Bay tour were behind me at the show (I still haven't heard from the lady was supposed to email us all).

There was an announcement before the show started. The English one had an American accent, but the French one had a Vietnamese accent.

Pre-show announcement (French)

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Musicians. Notice the men's costumes and the instruments look Chinese.

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Notice the girl sitting in front (on the right). You can guess why she's put there.

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Admittedly her smile (in contrast to the sour look of the girl beside her) is one reason. Half the time she just smiled mysteriously at us.

The Music sounded Chinese also

Vietnamese sounds like a less harsh version of Cantonese.

Start of Performance

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Birds squirting

Bird Courtship

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The birds produced an egg, which hatched into a small bird.

There was another scene where a boy was fishing, he caught something but snakes chased him.

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Rice planting

Rice work


Fire on the Water. I don't think the traditional version has dry ice.

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Worshipping the God Emperor

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Fees for photography/videography. Notice the spacing problems: "veui llez payer", "ne pas uti liser le magne toscope"
I'm not sure why you're not supposed to use a VCR (magnetoscope)

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"Shop... Malaysia | Singapore Fashion"
Erm. Then again, in the land of the blind...

For supper I decided to try a place @astyrred had recommended to me (and was also on the map provided by the hostel), Cha Ca La Vong, serving Vietnamese fish with turmeric and dill. I was just peckish but wanted to squeeze in one more culinary adventure into my trip.

I got lost on the way there (the streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter are famously hard to navigate - or maybe it's a conspiracy to make bad maps) so I gave up and took a cab (not least so the place wouldn't close).

The cab driver used the meter automatically so I was very happy. I mentioned the word "meter" and he pointed at it - it was already on (the Hanoi taxi meters didn't turn on automatically). At the end, he even gave me an extra 1,000 VND in change. Amazing. Extrapolating, 20K for the earlier taxi trip from the Prison to the Opera House was either fair or possibly even cheaper than the meter. Amazing.

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Tourist menu I got, being a tourist

Sizzling fish

Mixing ingredients

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At-table cooking

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Sample bowl

The fish was good quality (though the portion wasn't a lot), and the seasoning interesting and aromatic (the flavour wasn't very strong though).

The Vietnamese like to cook their beehoon and leave it aside, so it all clumps up. Then they need scissors to cut it. Maybe they would like Roti Jala. Or maybe they dip everything in fish sauce anyway (it must suck being a Vietnamese Vegetarian) so it'll unravel.

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"Vietnamese Dessert" (it should've been pomelo, served with powdered chili and salt?!) and "Vietnamese Tea" (like slightly more fermented green tea)
This was why the Vietnamese are not known for their desserts. Though I must say the pomelo was peeled very well.

On exiting the restaurant, I realised that I'd wanted to go to "Cha Ca Thang Long" at 80 Ma May (and had pointed its address and spot on the map to the driver). Instead the taxi had brought me to a place of the same name at 21-31 Duong Thanh (and I only realised when I tried to walk back, following my map). I'd mistakenly thought that Cha Ca La Vong was in that very location (since the names looked similar and the map was bad).

When I was in Vietnam I was very upset and thought this was the most spectacular scam that'd been pulled on me. Now that I'm back and having done further research it appears 80 Ma May houses a vegetarian "Tamarind Cafe", so maybe he brought me to the place of the right name (but different address, since the original was invalid).

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Cha Ca Thang Long

I saw more Vietnamese men than women wearing bra cups on their faces while riding their motorcycles. Maybe they were trying to expand their breasts too.

I hate roaming. My SMSes always supposedly fail, but in reality they often go through.

The Ao Dai seems to be to be the worst of both worlds - you have the disadvantages of pants (heat, perspiration being trapped, troublesome in the toilet) with some of the disadvantages of a skirt (easy to catch in something, annoying to run).

In the Third World, it helps having someone else with you so you won't get conned. If I return, I need to bring someone.

I think I wasn't cynical, suspicious and distrusting enough to travel in Vietnam, which was why I kept getting conned. The next time I shall be more prepared. Good luck to people who trust in the innate goodness of humanity.

My bun cha tea cost me 90,000 VND, which was US$4.50; Vietnamese food just might be cheaper in Singapore than in Vietnam (or at least Hanoi). This shocked me into checking prices before ordering for the rest of the trip, my not being used to bargaining for food notwithstanding.

Scarred by my Tea, I checked the price of the seng gueh drink before ordering it. It was 15,000 VND.
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