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Photo Essay: Water puppets in Hanoi

The water puppet shows in Vietnam have a long, rich history dating back many centuries.  We went to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi.  The cynical part of me had low expectations and, wow, were those expectations exceeded.  I loved the show which lasts about an hour and a half. The theater is in the Old Quarter and very easy to find.  It's also only a short walk away from the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple) which is on Hoàn Kiếm Lake.  This whole area of the city is very walkable  and nice to check out.

Here is the stage as we all eagerly waited for the show to start.

Finally the characters start to come out.  There are several stories played out with these characters.  We kept wondering where are the artists that are moving the puppets.

One of the main characters is just having a relaxing time fishing. Until...

A dragon shows up.

There are several old Vietnamese folklore stories which give you a good sense of the culture. Then the artists come out to take a bow and it's done.

This is a must see when in Hanoi!

Wat Ou Sai Kham in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Ou Sai Kham, a temple, in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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This is the inside of Wat Ou Sai Kham, a temple, in Chiang Mail, Thailand.  The temple is said to be more than 300 years old.   If you do not know, the word Wat means temple in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.  Think "Angkor Wat" (Cambodia) which is, of course, one of the most famous temple ruins in the world.

I was just wandering around some back streets in Chiang Mai and stumbled upon this Wat.  It was completely a hidden gem for me.  There was only one other person there when I arrived.  He left as I arrived and motivated me to make put a little money in the donation box after I saw him do so.  This temple though small is absolutely beautiful.  It is quite a peaceful place; away from all the tourists and traffic.

Buddhist temples are different in different countries.  See my post on the Golden Temple for an example of a temple in southern India.

Ta Prohm tree

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This is one of the spectacular trees growing into the temple ruins of Ta Prohm.  This temple is part of the larger Angkor Archaeological Park near the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia.  The most famous of the temple complexes there is, of course, Angkor Wat.  However, the other parts of the Angkor Park are just as amazing.  The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ta Prohm is basically an old monastery during the Khmer empire.  It was constructed by Jayavarman VII who was king of the Khmer 1181 until 1218 AD.   The temple was completed and dedicated in 1191.

Part of the Tomb Raider movies (with Angelia Jolie) were filmed here.  However, we did not see Lara Croft running around while we were there.  Oh well.  :-)

The fact that these structures have been around for so long is really mind-boggling to me!

By the way, I had just gotten my first DSLR camera and did not know how to use it.  That's why you see the sky is much brighter than it should be.  Live and learn.  :-)

Until next time...

Wyman

Fishing off the Galata Bridge in Istanbul

Lots of people fish from the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. This bridge is sort of a gateway between Istanbul's Old City and modern Istanbul.

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They hook the fishing poles to the bridge using a special rig.

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There's even an outdoor bait and tackle shop for the fishermen to buy what they need.

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Here are some close shots of the bait and tackle they have available.

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Inside the Golden Temple - Namdroling Monastery

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On a trip to Coorg, India we made a short stop at the Namdroling Monastery.     The locals just call this place the Golden Temple.  Namdroling Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in a Tibetan settlement which is well maintained and a great place to spend a couple of hours

Pictured above are the Three Great Idols in main hall of the Padmasambhava Buddhist Vihara.  The perspective is a little mis-leading.  The idols are about 60 feet tall!

Until next time...

Wyman

Yum Yum Dim Sum in Shanghai ... to go

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A walk up dim sum counter in the main tourist district of Shanghai.  No waiting for the cart to come your way only to have your favorite dish snagged by the table next to you.

This place is pretty close to the Yuyuan Garden which is a must see if you're in the area.

Until next time...

Wyman

Haircut in Hanoi

Outside the US you will find all kinds of small businesses run by the side of the road or on a city sidewalk. Here is an example. This guy will lower your ears right on the street.

Notice the second barber chair to the right of the first one. I am not sure if he is a waiting customer or a second barber taking a break. It's also a mystery where the electricity is coming from.

Wonder how long this would last in a more developed country?

Oh... and just in case you were wondering.  I'd just had a good trim myself or I may have been tempted to give him a shot!

Until next time...

Wyman

Taipei - Memorial Hall and National Concert Hall

National Theater in Taipei, Taiwan as seen at night from the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.  Chiang Kai-shek is a former president of Taiwan.

Just to the left of the Concert Hall there is a very similar building that houses the National Theater.

The Memorial Hall itself holds a lot of the former president's belongings, photographs, and even a replica of his official office.

Here is a 1955 Cadillac that was one of his official sedans.

Another official sedan; a 1972 Cadillac.

This is the replica of his official office:

Spend the night on Halong Bay if you can

Halong Bay, Vietnam was recently listed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.  It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.  Having been there, I know why.  The place is simply amazing.  Rocks just seem to shoot out of the water and they are covered with beautiful greenery.  But there is more.  The people and the fishing village.  The people are hard-working and the houses they live in are modest.

I would not recommend doing this as a day trip from Hanoi though you could.  You'd be much better off to make it a two day trip and spend the night out on the bay.

We spent a night aboard a tourist boat.  It was a great time and I highly recommend sleeping out on the bay.  All of our meals were served on board.  The cabins were equipped with in-suite bathrooms.  The boat also had a top deck with lounge chairs for just relaxing and taking in the views.  If you were adventurous you could jump off the top deck and go for a swim or kayak trip.

One thing we did not expect were caves.  There are large caves carved into some of the rocks there.  They are set up for people to see them, of course.  So, our tourist boat can docked there and a guide took us up some steps and into the cave.   There was a walking loop around the cave to keep traffic flowing.  The cave was beautifully lit with different colors which give it a surreal feeling.  The lights also made for good pictures.

Whatever time you have in Halong Bay will be well spent.  This is such an incredible place.  The views are fantastic and it feels good to just sit in a lounge chair and relax while floating around.

Check out more of my photos from the trip in the Halong Bay gallery.

Anyone else have tips or suggestions for a trip here?  I'd love to hear about it in the comment section!

Fresh Shanghai Street Buns

This was our first stop the morning after flying into Shanghai.  It is a little place my wife used to go.  They were some of the best buns I've ever had.  Made and cooked fresh that morning.  They call them ‘san jien man tou’.

These were filled with ground pork and soup.  Very tasty!

Be careful when you eat them because the soup may come squirting out unexpectedly.  It is best to bite one corner and suck the soup out first.

The staff really enjoyed watching me eat them as this shop was nowhere near a tourist area.