Friday, November 7, 2008

Temple of Literature, Water Puppetry, still in Hanoi

After Itsumi finished with the conference she presented at in Hanoi, she and I went to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university, built in the 11th Century. The buildings are still standing!

Because Japanese is written with Chinese characters, and Vietnamese used to be written in Chinese characters, Itsumi was able to read the writing on the ancient buildings even though she doesn't speak Vietnamese. During the French occupation, the French got rid of the Chinese characters and imposed the Roman alphabet, and today Vietnamese is written in the Roman alphabet. This makes it easier for me to navigate Hanoi, because unlike in Japan I can read the street names. Also unlike Japan, all of the streets have names!

It's very easy to get along here without speaking Vietnamese. Everyone in the tourist industry (which is booming) speaks English, and many speak it very well. They like to ask me if I voted for Obama. The world is invigorated about his win!

In the evening Itsumi and I went to a traditional Vietnamese water puppetry show, a very impressive play "performed" by brightly colored puppots whose stage is a pool of water. It was beautiful, accompanied by traditional music!

Itsumi left Vietnam in the morning, returning to her job in Tokyo, and I'll spend the next two weeks by myself in Vietnam. I've booked a three-day tour of Halong Bay, starting tomorrow morning, so I'll be offline for the next few days.

The internet connection here is too slow for me to upload photos, but I will catch you up on pictures when I can. Until then, I hope you're doing well, and thanks for checking out my blog!

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