I was surprised by the lack of universities around the city center and I wanted to explore Greater Hanoi, so I referenced a bus route map I picked up previously and found a line that took me straight to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, one of the furthest located tourist attractions.
The museum was just one of multiple buildings, but the single entry fee allowed access to the entire park. Each of Vietnam’s numerous ethnic groups were presented in vivid detail with costumes, traditional customs, religious beliefs, migration history, etc., An interesting detailed I learned from someone was that the number of ethnic groups fluctuates depending on political classifications and groupings.
After stepping out of the Museum, I saw the nearby exit and wondered how many people thought that was the whole museum and simply left. I turned left and entered a very modern looking structure with a very open space and three more floors of art exhibitions, including one on Africa and some philanthropists’ donations.
Surrounding the entire museum park is an evolution of life size replicas for experiencing Vietnamese shelters and buildings from ancient era to pre-colonialism (I suppose the museums represent the modern structures). Quite a few structures were elevated to avoid flooding, and thus also a bit difficult to climb, but a worthwhile experience.
Having explored the entire complex, I wandered through the neighborhood toward a bus stop by the Vietnam Institute for Science and Technology, passing by numerous large institutions along the way such as the Vietnam Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology and what looked like a military academy.
On the return bus, I stopped by the Hanoi Citadel again to get a second entry ticket because the ticket comes in the form of a plastic card, which you immediately deposit into a card reader in order to enter. Since I wasn’t able to find a transit card (souvenir) for Vietnam I wanted this card as a souvenir, then I left and fled the country without using it.
The bus to Hanoi Airport was far. Additionally, the Kunming airport is located on a flattened mountain top, far from the city. I was thrilled by the cooler weather and relative ease at getting to Kunming city, watching the sunset in one of China’s most western cities from the bus, and arriving by evening. On my way to the hostel, I passed through a large shopping complex where a Walmart caught my eye!
This Kunming stop is actually part of a “free layover strategy,” which I utilized for a free week in Papua New Guinea. With just one day, I quickly dropped off my stuff at the hostel and headed out to explore the Walmart then a few nearby sites near Green Lake Park.
While in a foreign country, it’s worthwhile to visit familiar brands that have expanded internationally. The differences between your country’s version and it’s manifestation internationally provide a good point of reference which reveals a lot about the differences in culture.