Day 33: A bit of history in Hanoi
Claire: On searching for a bit of space we ventured out the Old Quarter today to see some of the historic sights and learn more about Hanoi... including the discovery of a railway line that goes right down a residential street!! It passes just twice a day, and I presume locals know the timetable like clockwork as at the time we crossed there was kids playing, ladies hanging washing and even a man making fire on the track.
Our first stop was the Temple of Literature, which also hosts Vietnam's first national university. After being a little bit (purposely) short changed by the entry woman (all was a little too obvious when we walked back and she had the rest of our money waiting for us!) we entered the beautiful gardens via the Great Gate.
In the temple courtyard we see a group of young students having their graduation photos taken. It was pretty entertaining to see them throw their mortarboards in the air and watch as they land back down hitting each other!! Such a beautiful setting with the pagodas, ponds and gardens.
Built in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the temple honours Vietnam’s finest scholars. Stelae's with inscribed with the names, places of birth and achievements of the exceptional ones. Students would come from all over Vietnam to study literature and poetry here.
Just a short walk from the temple we come to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the final resting place of the country's revolutionary leader. Built in Ba Dinh Square, it's where he declared independence in 1945. We were really interested in going to the museum but after being told by a dodgy man it was closed as we try to find the entrance (we thought we were in some kind of tourist scam so walked off!) we checked online and it is actually closed on Friday afternoons... bad planning on our part! So we find a cute cafe and order cinnamon & apple tea and do our history lesson via Google. Not quite the same, but we'll look forward to learning more in Ho Chi Mihn city anyway!
The park is really open with wide boulevards, surrounded by grand palaces and ornate embassies. Although there's loads of guards everywhere telling you not to walk here and there!!
Gav's day 33 takeaway
- The last place you expect to get scammed is on a 66p entrance ticket to a museum. But they warned us it would happen and it very nearly did. I nearly feel bad for the woman who tried to take 33p from us - did she really need it that much? But if she did that to every other customer every day, she's collecting a hefty bonus from a job that's culturally significant in the city and could probably use the extra funds.
- We saw a Guinness World Record set today by a man on a scooter carrying a ladder. Quite a long ladder. I understand the convenience of using your moped to carry stuff you need to get from A to B but blimey! Just give a moments thought to how much longer a ladder is than a moped. Then imagine trying to ride a moped around a tight bend with a hundred other mopeds, pedestrians and other moving objects surrounding you.