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Full Circle

Day 74: Nanning to Hanoi

Hanoi, Vietnam 
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Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The Puppeteers take a bow.
Michael Palin - Full CircleWalk back to the hotel marvelling at the night-time activity, the small-scale bustle on the streets. Shops and workshops lit by single strip-lights. There's no neon, no bright-lit billboards, no seething lines of stationary cars. This seems to be a city on a human scale - busy but not oppressive. I catch myself wondering how it could be so different from China, and making the mistake of eliding these countries of the Asian Pacific into one homogenous 'oriental' mass. Vietnam is as distinct from China as South Korea was from Japan. It has its own ancient culture, language and alphabet and its own, instantly appealing, style.

Tired, but unable to drag ourselves away from these dim, congenial streets, Basil and I take a last beer in a small Thai restaurant by the hotel. The proprietor is friendly.

'You like Thai food?' he asks.

'Oh, yes.'

He looks out into the night and sighs.

'Yes, one day,' he says, 'I will go to Thailand.'
Hanoi, Vietnam 
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Actors, musicians and opening parade.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 74
  • Country/sea: Vietnam
  • Place: Hanoi
  • Book page no: 111

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