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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Monday, 05 Mar 2007

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

MapOk, now that I've got my dates straight again, I can update a little here. Hanoi was great. My second day I spent galavanting the streets, did so much walking. Stopped at a great cafe for fresh coconut juice and a nice, strong, Vietnamese coffee (so strong it makes your spoon bend!). Also stopped at Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, which houses the body of the former communist leader--didn't go inside though as it was closed. I wandered over the Ho Chi Minh museum, only to discover that it too was closed, so I wandered on some more. Lots of green plants and trees in this city, mixed in with all the French architecture, gives a nice ambience to the city. I finally decided to walk to the Temple of Literature, so I walked and walked only to discover I was going in the totally opposite direction--so easy to lose your sense of direction in this place, I could never tell which way was north, south, east, or west. I'd make a great navigator someday. I finally hopped on one of the motorcycle taxis for less than a dollar, and he took me to the temple.

This temple is much different from the Buddhist, Daoist temples I've seen in Korea and China. It was built in 1070 A.D. in honor of Confucius. A university was erected some years later. Inside they have statues dedicated to Confucius and other scholars, as well as the Vietnamese kings who erected the university and promoted Confucian education. People come here to worship these statues much in the same way as they do the buddhist ones, bowing before the kings and the Confucian scholars. There are 82 stela (stone tablets) erected with the names of all the scholars who graduated from the university. It's a nice place with beautiful landscaping. After the temple, I wandered back toward the hotel where I was staying, stopping for some delicious Pho noodle along the way, and a refreshing yoghurt fruit shake. Spent the evening uploading photos to the blog and registered with skype, so now I can make international calls to landlines for cheap.

Hanoi is really a beautiful city, and I can't stress enough how you have to just go with the flow of the traffic, the peddlers, the crowds, the heat--or you're not going to have a good time. Next Stop, Cat Ba Island and Halong Bay.