By Karen Hasara
Feb. 21 — Our first full day in Hanoi and what a day it was! Our first venture was a walking tour of the old city and our first lesson was learning how to venture down the sidewalk together and to cross a street and survive! We learned that we had to carefully venture out, never hesitating, never running, and not trying to go back. In this town of 9 million people, it seemed that every bike, motor scooter, and car was where we were, but once we somewhat mastered that skill, we were treated to so many interesting sights and sounds, especially sounds of honking vehicles. So many wonderful photo opportunities for the architecture showing the French influence and of course shopping opportunities to try to bring back items to try to show family and friends at home what we are experiencing.
We then rode to lunch each in our own bicycle rickshaw, and amazingly all made it there in one piece! What a sight riding through the streets in one long line. After lunch most of us used our free time to visit what we have known as the Hanoi Hilton,used by the French in the past and then used again during the Vietnam war. It was an emotional visit, reminding us of difficult times in our history.
Our busy evening focused on happier events as we attended a water puppet show, popular in Vietnam. It was so entertaining and we were so fortunate to be able to meet the artists, learn from them how things work behind the scenes and how they train to become a puppeteer. Some of us even were able to try to operate one of the puppets!
After another wonderful Vietnam dinner, we walked back to our hotel sharing thoughts of our day and realizing how fortunate we are to be able to have this experience with each other because we belong to Dining For Women,where we are able to help others. We are also fortunate to have people who have arranged all the unforgettable things we are doing. Thanks to all of them!