Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011 (Hanoi)

HANOI IN BLOOM: We got up pretty early on Sunday and headed to the wholesale flower market in Hanoi. It's a stunning place. The flowers are incredible. So are the hard-working and focused women who are there. They show up around midnight; by 8 a.m. about everything is sold. Bicycles and motorbikes are laden with the flowers that will be sold in shops and at street corners throughout the city. Today, yellow was big presence today because of the beginning of the lunar month.

SOME OLD HANOI AND NEW HANOI: After the flower-market visit, we saw some flowers in action--at the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh's, where we were part of a big crowd filing past the body of the much-revered leader (and former busboy at the Parker House in Boston). The location was (obviously) an island of calm in the midst of the hectic traffic of Hanoi. One of the items on the grounds of the mausoleum and residence was an "air raid warning" device. This, obviously, dealt with the bombings of the city during the Vietnam War (or, as our guide called it, "the American War"). It was a shell casing, which, when struck, made a gonging sound.
Later, we went to the Tran Quoc Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. That last place is considered Vietnam's seat of learning. It includes Van Mieu, a temple dating back to 1070 that honors Confucius, and Quoc Tu Giam, an institute set up six years later to teach the philosopher's doctrines. This place is a favorite spot for photographing young students who dress specifically for the occasion (right).
After that, we separated from our guide/driver and spent some of the evening roaming the streets of the Old Quarter (near our hotel). We had a fabulous dinner at the Green Tangerine.
On the walk home, we ran into some after-dark break dancers (right) who were twirling, tumbling, spinning and spilling themselves in the Indira Gandhi Park on a terrace under the watchful eye of the statue of Ly Thai To, the first king of the dynasty that ruled the area for about 200 years, until 1225. It's on the southwest side of Lake Hoan Kiem, the home of some endangered turtles and the figurative heart of the city. The dancers weren't quite as organized and as in-step as the mausoleum guards (above) but were mesmerizing.

No comments:

Post a Comment