Before going to the Mai Chau region, we meet all the participants of the Ultra ASIA Race in the Vietnamese capital: Hanoï. Discover an incredible Asian city, full of contrasts.
The history of Hanoï, capital of Vietnam since 1980, dates back thousands of years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Shared between two cultures, French and Chinese, Hanoï has kept its authentic Vietnamese charm. Hanoï, The city above the river in Vietnamese, expands along the Occidental banks of the Red river (Song Hong). Its small size of 3,344 square kilometer makes Hanoï the perfect place to be visited by foot.
Smaller than her Southern neighbor Hô Chi Minh, the city is rich in monuments and still has marks of its French colonial past, like the Sofitel Metropole, like a nostalgia of the 60s. Hanoï’s large avenues and huge business centers sit next to old pagodas (the Pilier, unique pagoda in a shape of a lotus flower is not to be missed), traditional Vietnamese temples and peaceful parks. Hanoï is a real mix of modernity, exoticism and meditation.
Here, we start the day with a morning walk around the lake of Hoan Kiem, where you can spot many seniors exercising. We discover the treasures of the Vietnamese culture at the Hô Chi Minh mausoleum and at the Beaux-Arts Museum. We wander through the many little streets of the old town, between old charming houses and art galleries. For lunch, we’ll have a typical pho bo (a delicious beef noodle rice soup). And last but not least, we’ll end our day with a water puppet show or Múa Roi nuróc in Vietnamese, at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Made of varnished wood, the puppets are presented in a pool and seem to be dancing, thanks to the big bamboo pole supporting them. This tradition goes back to the XIe century, where it is said that when rice fields were flooded, villagers would already make some puppets dance on the water.