Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Hanoi - freakin’ Tet

I booked my Nam trip through a company rather than independent ..  to be honest my worldwide trip was done in two chunks .. the Americas and then the Asia leg …  after the number of hours I spent doing the first leg … and me being allergic to admin, I thought I would arrange the Vietnam leg of the trip through a company .. so I gave the destinations and a few key criteria … and received the itinerary back .. now I knew that Tet was on … so I had researched about what that would mean and how that would impact … but clearly my Vietnamese travel company had not …  one of the things I had stipulated was staying in the old quarter (which is central to everything especially on foot) …

My guide met me at the airport, mid afternoon and my first day was supposed to be transfer to hotel , only.. which is fab as I always just like to spend the first afternoon wandering the streets and checking out the locals … day two was supposed to be a full day sightseeing in Hanoi … however when my lovely guide picked me up at the airport, he told me everything that was on my list for tomorrow was closed (except Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum), due to Tet and as a result, we would have to do everything on the list (that would normally take a full day), today …  which meant 2 hours ….
all pics for this blog can be found (by clicking here) 
(all videos for Vietnam including Jessie J vietnam can be viewed by clicking on the my youtube vids link on the right of this blog)
So a quick race around Hanoi ..  we visited the temple of literature, which is a series of walled cpuryards and gateways, founded in 1070 and dedicated to confucious, it is also the site of Vietnams first University, as it was Tet the pkace had the most spectactular offerings and decorations, and hedges carved into the shape of animals representing the calender, A visit to the Catholic Church which was beautiful, and where I got see school children out the front singing along to Jessie J .....(which I loved) ...the museum of ethnology which demonstrates the ethnic diversity in Vietnam and displays artefacts and homes from the 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country. A drive past the Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple a quick visit to the opera house … a visit to the tortoise pagoda and the one pillar pagoda. The Vietnamese pagodas are quite magical, whilst I am a Catholic (although non practising) there is something very peaceful about being in a place of worship regardless of religion, the Vietnamese pagodas are so historic and gothic looking,given it is Tet all the pagodas are decorated extremely ornately with flowers and offerings everywhere (kinda funny that a lot of the offerings left on altars are Oreo cookies !!) Those gods love their Oreos …given they are American it makes me chuckle even more...
Then … I was driven to my hotel .. on the west lake … nowhere near where I asked …
There was not much around the hotel, so I wanted to head back to the old quarter .. as my guide had left I asked the hotel to call a taxi ..  I waited, and waited and waited …. For two hours, gave up and ordered room service … with an apology .. oh sorry it is Tet .. spent the evening wandering the westlake and surrounding streets and giggling at the massive kumquat trees  and cherry blossom trees balanced on the back of bikes as they are taken to families for Tet…

Given Ho Chi Minch Mausoleum was open only in the morning, an early start to visit …. It can take up to 3 hours to queue … and it takes about 20 secs to see, so be prepared, the grounds surrounding however are amazing and you can see and visit Ho Chi Minhs stilt house where he lived from 1958 until his final days in 69 ..
Back to the hotel and really excited as I had a friend celebrating his 40th in Hanoi, so spent the afternoon walking around the west lake and surrounding area and then back to the hotel where they rang a cab, and I waited and waited and waited … and after 2 hours gave up and missed my friends 40th … soooo peed …  wandered the streets and ate from the street side vendors ..(some strange lookin’ stuff in my belly !!)   I checked out the following morning … and whilst there is an extra day to stay on my return from Halong … I am going elsewhere … (woop woop I have booked the Metropole)

Stay safe - x

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