Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adventures in Vietnam: Part I

It's a lazy Sunday and I just finished putting away groceries, throwing on some laundry, and blowing up a beach ball that came free with a recently purchased box of cereal (it says "Kellogg's" on one panel and "Special K" on another"). So since I'm hanging in today it seemed like a good time to finally share some pictures and details from our trip to Vietnam!

We left on a Saturday morning and made it to Noi Bai International Airport in the early afternoon. From there we took a cab to our hostel in Hanoi which took a little under an hour. We stayed at the Little Hanoi Hostel Le Thai To which is right on Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi's Old Quarter. I would absolutely suggest this hostel if you're staying in Hanoi. Not only is it conveniently located but it's clean and well maintained and the staff were friendly. They helped book our tickets down to Hue and back which probably would have been a pain to figure out otherwise and someone was always around if anyone needed anything. 

After dumping our bags in our room we set off to explore.
 Turtle Tower.
 The Dharma Initiative is everywhere.
Travel days are always pretty tiring and we'd been up early so after looking around a bit more and grabbing dinner later on we called it a day. The next morning we had breakfast at the same spot we'd had dinner because it was close and we didn't want to be wandering around trying to find food. One of the most awesome awesome awesome things about Vietnam is that they have Western breakfast. Well, lots of Western food in general but breakfast is what interested me most. Finding somewhere in Korea that serves up pancakes or omelettes or french toast is pretty difficult so I was more than happy to indulge in Western breakfast all week long. We realized later, after hitting up a few more restaurants, that this place was a bit overpriced but it was right on the lake and had a nice view so it was worth those two meals.
After breakfast we went in search of a particular temple but when we got there it was closed. One thing to note if you're sightseeing in Hanoi is that a lot of places close from 10 or 11am to 1 or 2pm. Instead of setting out around that time like we did, try to catch places earlier and then spend those hours getting lunch or street shopping. 
Bach Ma Temple.
Lenin Park.
Big old statue of Lenin.
 Flag Tower.
 The Hồ Chí Minh Mausoleum. It's only open from 9am to noon but we passed on this because we were never in the area at the right time and seeing a dead body wasn't exactly high on the list.
One Pillar Pagoda.
While waiting for the Hồ Chí Minh Museum to open we checked out the Military History Museum which truth be told isn't really worth seeing. It's small but even still there wasn't a whole lot and everything seemed sort of thrown together. Lots of items were just left out in the open instead of being behind protective glass and most of the labels had been taped up. 
Once it was open for the afternoon we headed back to the Hồ Chí Minh Museum which was one of my favorite stops on the trip.
Before this trip I didn't know a lot about Vietnam's history or even the war. I never read much about it on my own and I'll save my rant about how US schools fail to teach anything past 1950 for some other day. So everything was pretty new to me and I felt like I learned a lot. The Hồ Chí Minh Museum is especially thorough and nicely mixes the history of the man himself and the country with various works of art. I highly recommend making a stop there.
 A cool exhibit that was running while we were there.
More to come soon!

Trivia of the Day: Hoan Kiem Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, meaning "Lake of the Returned Sword" or "Lake of the Restored Sword", also known as Hồ Gươm - Sword Lake) is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. According to the legend, emperor Lê Lợi handed a magic sword called Heaven's Will which brought him victory in his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty back to the Golden Turtle God in the lake and hence gave it its present name. The Tortoise Tower standing on a small island near the centre of lake is linked to the legend. Large soft-shell turtles, either of the species Rafetus swinhoei or a separate species named Rafetus leloii in honor of the emperor, have been sighted in the lake. The species is critically endangered and the number of individuals in the lake is unclear.

No comments:

Post a Comment