06 May 2007

The sites of Hanoi, Vietnam

Apart from the colourful sidewalks and the chaotic streets, there were some amazing sites around Hanoi. If you look past the busy-ness of the city; the scenery and park areas are beautiful as are the Pegodas and Temples.

The country is rich in history and legend has it that Veitnam is over 4000 years old however based on the only reliable source, the coutry is at least 2700 year old. I has had it's struggle for autonomy and fought off the Chinese, French, and Japanese, then during the Vietnam War, the North was supported by China and the Soviet Union while the South was supported by the United States.

Upon arriving in Hanoi we familiarised ourselves with the city, had a massaged and took the afternoon easy. We did splurge and have a night at Bobby Chin's - a restaurant named after a Chef and Travel Show Host. Bobby Chin has his own TV Series about the Asian Street Cafes... you can read more about him here.

The next day was pretty busy seeing the sites... Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - it's amazing how many people line up to see the tomb of an old leader. The line easily stretched two normal size blocks and we were told many Vietnamese will visit the Mausoleum once in their life time to pay their respects to Ho Chi Minh. We also walked around the former residence of Ho Chi Minh - he was a humble man who never felt comfortable in a grand palace and instead chose to live in a 2 room bungalow that contained his bedroom and his office.

We visited a couple of well known and important Pegoda's - religious buildings in honour of Buddha. They were amazing with life size Buddha statues and traditional instruments used in ceremonies.

The One Pillar Pegoda is an architectual gem... it was originally built in 1049, then reconstructed in 1955 after it was destroyed. Legend has it that King Ly Thai To after producing a number of daughters really wanted a son. One night he dreamed of the goddess Quan Am (better known as Kwan Yin or Guan Yin in the Western world) sitting on a lotus leaf and offering him a son. Struck by the dream, the Emperor's wife soon provided him with a male heir. In gratitude, the king built this pagoda to honor the goddess. Some have said that the pagoda resembles a lotus climbing out of the water.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we visited the Temple of Literature, Historical Museum, Ngoc Son Temple - these temples are religious building in honour of Confusionism. The temple was amazing again with beautiful traditional artwork, statues and ceremonial instruments. All temples and pagoda's have a rich history and a story of why it is there.

After a busy day we spent the rest of the afternoon on a Rickshaw tour around the Old Quarter supposedly getting to see their antique shops but they were more like wholesale stores - they offered anything and everything.
Of course the ride was interesting because we did navigate some busy intersections and some of that time my eyes were tightly shut because I didn't want to see the people, bikes or cars around me. My rickshaw driver lead the way so getting a photo of Nick was difficult, instead I snapped some tourist doing the same thing - their rickshaws were 2 seaters whereas ours were for individual people.

Feel free to check out more sights of Hanoi in my online photo album - click on the link below.

Sights of Hanoi, Vietnam Album

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