Friday, September 11, 2009

Belly Dancing in Hanoi

Hanoi : I will never forget it.

Everything was nearly perfect during my whole stay of 8 days!
The gracious owner of Apsara Studio (An) allowed me to stay in the studio complex, in a beautiful room overlooking a cozy tropical garden. Apsara Studio is also home of the project Hidden Hanoi. There, they offer cooking classes and basic Vietnamese language for tourists as well as an assortment of dance classes. The whole complex is beautifully decorated and welcoming. An designed the studio and came up with the concept.

The whole staff was so friendly and helpful that I can't describe in words. They simply treated me like a member of the family. Since Ara (the Belly Dance teacher) was in France during the month preceding my arrival, Giang ( a member of the troupe Bastet Douat) did a lot of the organizing of the workshops in conjunction with An and the Apsara studio staff. Their level of professionalism is just amazing! Ara arrived the day after I did and she is a delight to hang out with, plus a great teacher and dancer

The workshops and group private lessons were a lot of fun and I hope that they had as good a time as I had. Everyone also kept me busy in the evenings, finding great places to go eat, or inviting me to their own homes!!! The generosity and hospitality of the Vietnamese people is unforgettable and humbling, really. I felt totally pampered. Also in Hanoi I had the best massage ritual ever!

I could go on forever about how much I loved Hanoi. You just must go and experience it yourself. It is a very unique city with a rich history and culture and one of the most wonderful people on earth. They are getting ready to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary next year, I believe, so it will be a party!

The only regret I have is that I didn't have more time to travel around the area since I was happily busy involved in dance lessons, workshops and the Hafla, but I did get to spend two days at Ha Long Bay-- a MUST SEE for everyone. It is a bit overcrowded with tourists, I agree, but its beauty is worth it and that is why we all want to go there. I will always have a bit space in my heart for Hanoi and all the people who made it such a wonderful experience.

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