HANOI, Vietnam // There is a pottery village a few miles outside of Hanoi and Jenny wanted to check it out. Not many tourists go there, but we planned to make the journey into an adventure. The goal // use all local public buses to get there.
From the information that we gathered online, we first needed to walk to the Long Bien Bus Station, about 10 minutes from the Old Quarter where we were staying. Here, we waited for the 47A bus which comes every 20 minutes. Without problems we got on and it took us outside Hanoi, through a super nice gated community, and to the area where we think was the pottery village. Every time the bus stopped, Jenny and I would look at each other and ask, "get off here?" We got to see the outskirts of the big city, and the total cost was 7,000 Vietnamese Dong, or about .30 cents in US dollars. We saw a sign that said "Ceramics" so we just got off.
We walked down a gravel path kind of in the middle of nowhere, into this beautiful garden like area where we came to a ceramic factory that makes tea pots and vases. I'm not sure how many visitors this place gets, but we had 3 tour guides. When we told them we were from New York, we believe they interpreted this as we were wholesaler buyers, looking to purchase in bulk. They gave us tea and wanted to take pictures of us while we watched the people make the pots and vases. We bought a micro tea pot from them that we hope to use back home, one of the few souvenirs purchased on this trip.
From here we wandered around the town and a lady let us use her studio to try to make something. The potters wheel was one where you had to manually spin it with your arms and was incredibly difficult. It was way different than the electric ones used in the US, or even in Cambodia where it was foot powered. It gave us an appreciation for everything that was made here.
We waited for the return bus in the city center, which was non-existent and consisted of a guy in a large tent sitting on a cooler selling warm bottled drinks. We finally got back on the bus and in 40 minutes were back in the chaotic Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Going to a random place and using the public bus system was a different kind of fun. It was a little difficult, but using our minds to problem solve, navigate, and focus today, was a lot more enjoyable than sitting somewhere and being entertained. It was incredibly satisfying to learn something new.