|Our guide Duc picked us up at our hotel and we headed over to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh was the leader of North Vietnam and lived near the Presidential Palace in two different buildings from 1954 till his death in 1969. Ho never wanted to live in the Palace itself and his "stilt" house, built in the style of ethnic minorities, has been preserved just as he left it when he died. Contrary to his wishes (Ho wanted to be cremated), his body was embalmed and is on display at the Mausoleum in a glass sarcophagus. The Mausoleum is closed for about three months each year for maintenance and guess what?.......much to our chagrin it was closed about two days before we arrived in Hanoi. We did manage to see the changing of the guard....we wandered about the Presidential Palace grounds and then made our way to see the One Pillar Pagoda....built by Emperor Ly Thai Thong in 1049....made from wood on a single stone pillar, it was designed to look like a lotus blossum , the symbol of purity, rising out of a sea of sorrow. The French, before leaving Hanoi in 1954 destroyed the structure and it was rebuilt later by the new government. We then visited the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology which houses a collection art and everyday objects from the country and its diverse tribal people. There are also outdoor exhibits including a Tay house from the Dinh Hoa district, a Bahnar communal house built by 42 villagers from Kon Rbang Village in Kontum town, which has a height of 19 metres and an Ede longhouse, modelled on one from Ky Village in Buon Ma Thout City which is 42.5 metres long and 6 metres wide, and a Viet House from Thanh Hoa province. There were a number of bridal parties taking pictures at various locations on the grounds of the museum. We commented as to the vast number of weddings that day, but Duc, our guide told us that most of the couples there were taking pictures well in advance of their actual wedding day, as was the usual practice in Vietnam. We couldn't believe that they would all get their hair and nails done and get dressed in their wedding gowns and tuxedos and pose for pictures before they were actually married........next stop was lunch at The Seasons of Hanoi Restaurant before visiting the Temple of Literature, which was founded by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. It was here that the first university in Vietnam was established in 1076 to educate the sons of mandarins. The Temple has five distinct courtyards and there are 82 stelae on which the names, places of birth and achievements of the men who received doctorates between 1442 and 1778 (when the practice was discontinued) are recorded. Duc asked us if we knew why there were always raised entrances at every temple and when we said "no" he explained.......when a person enters a temple they are facing the Buddha and having to step over the raised entrance, they usually are forced to look down to step inside and bow their heads in reverence as a result; secondly, it is believed that evil has no feet and consequently, evil cannot enter any temples. Because there are a great number of tourists who come to Vietnam at this time of year, we were unable to stay at one hotel for three consecutive nights and so we made our way to the Old Quarter where we checked into the Thang Long Opera Hotel. An hour later we attended a performance at the Water Puppet Theatre on So Lau Street, bordering Hoan Kiem Lake. The puppets are operated by eleven puppeteers who stand in a pool of water behind a bamboo screen and who make the puppets dance in time to music provided by a band which includes wooden flutes, gongs, drums, bamboo xylophones and the single-stringed "dan bau' violin-like instrument. In the evening we took a walk in the area and could not believe how many shoe stores there were....the Vietnamese love their shoes....we then strolled around Hoan Kiem Lake past Ngoc Son Temple and Thap Rua, also known as Tortoise Tower. Presumably there are numerous tortoises in this urban lake although no one is sure how they survive. The last known sighting was in the year 2000...