Mr Bean’s Dream

And on to yesterdays adventures.

Got up pretty early, seems to be an emerging trend, assisted by the sounds of all the other people in the dormitory. Strangely though, i’m not having any trouble sleeping. And i’m going to bed really early by the standards of the other folk staying here, they seem to all go to bed about 2am, but i’m a zombie by about 11!

Met up with Sylvie (she’s returning to France soon, so it would be my last day with her) in the morning. We planned on going to the Citadel, now it was hopefully open, and seeing if we could find the oldest temple in Hanoi (if you’re going to see a temple, and there are hundreds, it might as well be that one). Ha had marked it roughly on the map for me the first night, so it seemed like a good target to aim for. Speaking of which, Ha has been really busy with work (understandable, she has to earn a living), so i haven’t seen her since, but she sent me some details of getting the best deal in a trip to Sapa.

But before the temple and the Citadel, me and Sylvie went and had some pho (beef soup), picking exactly the right time to turn up, as 5 minutes later the place was filled to the rafters with locals on their lunch break. The only problem with eating here is that as soon as you finish eating, you can see the staff want you out the door so they can get someone else in, so you can feel a little awkward just sitting around chatting. Understandable really though when the food is so cheap!

After that we went down by the lake, Sylvie wanted to introduce me to Vietnamese ice cream, and who was i to resist?

Some photos require no explanation.

So after a walk round the lake, past all the married couples getting their pictures taken at the lakeside (its apparently an auspicious time to get married, so they were every 10 feet, getting ordered around by photographers), we tucked in.

Obligatory stuffing your face with ice-cream shot, expertly taken by Sylvie.

What can you do but obey?

Also got lightly ripped off by the toilet attendant by the lake, who first tried to charge me 10000 dong for using the toilet instead of 1000, and then charged me 3000 anyway (i realised when i actually checked my change). Its nothing in terms of money anyway, but i still thought “Bastard!” when i realised!

Despite the map with the temple roughly marked, there were loads of temples in that area on Sylvie’s map, so we ended up wandering all over the place looking for it, including some seriously dodgy areas with streets that made the Hostel’s street look like a highway. But still no matter where we went, i never felt in any way threatened, people seemed, at most, just curious.

We went past this huge pagoda, covered in buddhas. Each pagoda has a dedicated purpose, and this one is apparently for people who want to pray about getting a job, so pretty much like buddhism powered job centre. Much prefer the decor to the one in Mountain Ash if i’m honest.

I thought this view captured Hanoi quite well, so i took a shot. The only thing you dont get in this pic is the smell of the waterway in between the greenery and the houses. Lets just say….pungent.

Eventually we found the temple, which was really beautiful and calm, apart from the woman trying to sell us postcards in the courtyard, who seemed to get quite frustrated when we resisted. The temple itself is a thousand years old, and beautifully decorated inside.

The cast bronze statue inside is a mere 400 years old. Bloody new builds.

Sylvie told me that it really is fine to just snap away inside most temples, so i fired away. I took this one just to show the bizarre series of objects they seem to have inside. Note the pair of giant silk wrestling boots in a glass case in the foreground. Weird.

After that we headed for the Citadel, which was, thankfully, open this time. Most of the original features from when it was a forbidden city are gone completely, sadly, and though they have restored a lot of it, they’ve done it to how it was during the colonial era.

Restored colonial buildings and giant bell. The bell remains unexplained.

The only pre-colonial things outstanding are a couple of gates, the Flag Tower…

And these amazingly carved steps. Originally, only the emperor could walk up the central steps, and the side steps were for his attendants.

They did a UNESCO archeological excavation of the site, and there was an exhibition which really showed the richness of the original citadel though, packed with exhibits, with loads of information in english (woohoo!).

A terracotta phoenix head from the corner of a roof. The whole place seems to have been covered in this stuff, really amazing.

And their prize exhibit, in the centre of this pic, a sword blade inlaid with 3 different kinds of precious metals. Really beautiful up close.

And today, i’m off to the army museum with an RAF bloke i met last night. So tomorrows entry will be the gung-ho, guns blazing, weapons and ammo edition just for Mr. Nolan. I know he needs his fix.

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~ by zendog888 on 27/10/2010.

One Response to “Mr Bean’s Dream”

  1. Awesome!

    Tip of the day: A condom on the end of the M16 not only protects the barrel from water damage but also general jungle debris.

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