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So the final days of our trip we headed up to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.  I think this was perhaps my favorite part of the trip.

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After many days of overwhelming color and sites and traffic and busy streets it was great to get on the water overnight in this serene, peaceful and gorgeous area.

We cruised around for 2 days on this ‘junk’ boat relaxing, eating great local food, drinking nice wine and doing a few little off boat adventures.

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Luke and I went kayaking, walked the beaches and climbed through an awesome cave which fisherman and their families lived in not too long ago (sadly the camera died so we have no photos of this).

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Otherwise it was a great opportunity to wind down from our trip.

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While in the city we also went to see some water puppets which was interesting.  They are essentially 2-3 foot high wooden dolls made up in a variety of fashions and attached to very long poles.  The ‘actors’ or puppeteers are behind bamboo screens standing in waist deep water and they introduce their characters under water with them popping out on the audience side of the screen where they perform and are controlled by the poles hidden by the water’s surface.  The stories were quite interesting and told traditional tales of people in rural villages where this art form was born in the rice fields.  It went for about an hour and was really pretty amusing.

The same day we went to the ethnology museum which was exceptionally well done – and had a very cool exhibition out the back of real traditional family houses of some of the more regional cultural groups in Vietnam.  This one in particular was amazing:

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We also went for a cyclo ride around the lake (bikes which push chairs in front of them usually filled by unsuspecting tourists).  It was only somewhat terrifying as cars and bikes and pedestrians all try and merge and cross intersections while your feet and arms all seem like fair game in a side-swipe.  An interesting way to see the city nonetheless.

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It was a great trip and a beautiful country.

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