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Ciaran and Ruth's Worldwide Adventures

Last Day in Hanoi

VIETNAM | Saturday, 29 December 2007 | Views [670]

Led by a tiny map we navigated through the labyrith of tiny streets and crowded alleyways of the Old Quarter in search of Bach Ma temple, the oldest of all the buildings in that quarter of Hanoi, apparently. Eventually, after much map gazing we gave up, unable to find it, that is until we actually looked up, out of the map, to see it standing right in front of us. After a minute or two exploring its tininess we left, thoroughly unimpressed.

Onwards then to the Dong Xuan market, an indoor market at the top end of the city and situated close to the Long Bien bridge, the only crossing of the Red River during the American War - which resulted in its being subjected to relentless bombing by the USAF. Stubborn structure that it is, it resisted all attacks and stood proudly through the decades of conflict. Not so stubborn however was the Dong Xuan market building, a fire at the end of the eighties gutted the building meaning that what stands there today is a recently rebuilt structure. Packed, literally jammers with stalls and hawkers. In fairness to them, the Vietnamese hawkers are much more polite than their Chinese counterparts. They're not really into haggling and are happy to let you walk away if you don't meet their prices. Which are probably a little inflated for us foreigners, but what the heck, you'd get a pair of shoes here for less than a warm can of coke in the Stephen's Green Shopping Centre.

It can be hard to take the crowds though, and they are everywhere, except it seems where admission prices are charged. To get away from it all a bit we paid the Euro or so needed to get into the Temple of Literature. An ancient place of learning, this place has accommodated scholars as far back as a millennium ago. The names of the graduates are etched on stone plaques carried, somewhat unusually, by stone tortoises, making, I suppose the job of the examinations office closer to that of stone mason than pen pusher. Impressive, however, this place is - really beautiful buildings housing, among other things, statues of the three kings who oversaw its development.

But that was pretty much the end of our exploration of Hanoi. After being ripped off by one dodgy taxi driver, we made our way to the airport and onwards through Ho Chi Minh City towards Sydney, where we'll arrive tomorrow morning. It will be good, we've got to tell you, to breathe clean air and get away from the incessant horn beeping on the streets, it will be fantastic to cross the road certain of the fact that when the pedestrian lights go green this is observed as a rule by motorists, rather than as a casual request, as seems to be the case in Hanoi, it will of course be great to meet up with friends in Sydney, but in truth we will miss Hanoi a little bit. It is a frantic but intriguing city (where else, for example, would the government mount a poster of a woman carrying a Kalashnikov - as shown above), which we are delighted to have visited, however briefly.

Tags: Sightseeing


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