It was a sad and rainy morning, my last full day in Hanoi. Melancholy dripped from the leaves into the lake. The lake swallowed the tears and still, reflected the sky.But the streets are so full of life that curiosity pulled me from my mood.I ended up taking a taxi to the Ethnographic Museum. It was a super museum because
a) there were lots of videos showing people making things like hats and baskets;
b) there were stools to sit on to watch the videos in comfort;
c) there were traditional houses outside that you could climb up into;
d) there was tea for sale made on whatever kind of traditional hearth matched the house;
e) there was a great museum shop selling handicrafts at good prices and claiming to be sending the money to the artisans;
f) there was a terrific restaurant that was a non-profit organization training disadvantaged kids to work in hospitality.
If you make it there, order the mango salad with dried beef - I've never tasted anything so good.
The museum is about 10 km from the hostel. I hate taking taxis - I'm always sure they're ripping me off, so I was intending to take a city bus back to the right area of town. But when I left the museum, the motorscooter guys started trying to get me to ride with them. I demurred because of the price, but when I got that low enough, I told them I wasn't sure because it was too dangerous. They told me over and over with few words and many gestures that they'd drive very slowly and safely. Since I couldn't possibly leave Hanoi without a motor scooter ride, and it was my last day, and since everyone gets around town that way, I took the plunge. He was a good driver, but it was still crazy - fun and scary and I arrived at destination with grit covering all bare skin.
I had originally booked a tour to the Perfume Pagoda for today. It sounded like a great time, being rowed up a river, then climbing up to beautiful temples in the mist. But when I woke up, I realized I didn't want to be toured around for my last day in Hanoi. And so I did what no backpacker kid would have the luxury to do - I just didn't go. I wasted $25 US, and it was worth it to make my last day this much fun.