Our first stop in Hanoi was Van Mieu, the Temple of Literature, the oldest university in Vietnam. It is over 1000 years old. Scholars came here to study Confucian philosophy and how to serve the king.
These statues showed the names of the 1300 doctors who passed the National and Royal exams and were able to serve the King
Turtles represent longevity
This lady and her husband patted the heads of all the turtles in the temple
There were many of these passageways in the temple. When you cross through them you are crossing into a new spiritual area, so there are doors you have to walk through to help you in the transition from one area to another.
Dragon on the roof of one of the passageways
I loved the roofs
This is a unicorn. We aren't sure where the name comes from, but one suggestion is that a unicorn in English is a mystical creature, so they took the term from that, even though our version of a unicorn is quite different.
These paintings were all over Vietnam. No one could tell us what they were, but Kathy our assistant said she thought they might be telephone numbers....
Loudspeaker on the street giving out daily messages. One person said they have exercise programs on here in the mornings and along with sayings like "Be a good comrade" they say "Don't eat to many carbohydrates"
This display by our hotel was counting down the days until Hanoi turned 1000!
Dr. Ingle took us to the area where he used to live and we met the lady who owns his favorite coffee shop. She helped him learn Vietnamese. He was very happy to see her.
Water Puppet Theater. All the puppets are connected to long poles that are controlled by people behind the red building in the background. Some of the movements looked very difficult.
At the end, the artists revealed themselves.
Trish, Sarah, and Meghan with the bartender at the Funky Monkey bar near our hotel.
Our relaxing day at Ha Long Bay started off with a 2 hour boat ride throughout the bay.
Riding the "unicorn"
Trish wanted to ride too
Trish was enjoying the relaxing scenery
Trish through the mouth of the unicorn
I wanted to jump in.
The bay was beautiful, but a bit cloudy and smoggy
We went into one of the caves and it was beautiful
People lived in the bay and fished or sold snacks to the tourists.
This is the beach where we swam. The water was warmer than the Oregon Coast but a bit dirty. We didn't see any fish at all....
Coming into dock Ha Long Bay looked like an ordinary city in the States
Sunset at Ha Long Bay
When we arrived back at the dock we saw how many boats there are. This has become a huge business
Everyone fell asleep on the 3 hour ride home, but then we stopped at a rest stop and got a lot of snacks which gave us a sugar high.
Meghan, Dustin and I went out to a bar one night and they were decorating for Christmas. It took us about an hour to figure out what they were doing. One guy would crinkle up some brown paper, then the other guy would flatten it out, then make it into something. We finally asked and they said something about a camel... We all got to help them spray paint though. Unfortunately we never went back to see the finished decorations.
The Red River
Jalel, from the Vietnam Green Building Council, took us on a tour of the Bach Dang Ward along the Red River. He is trying to start a program there to assess climate change vulnerability and retrofit houses with green materials.
Some cute kids playing in the ward.
Trying to show how dusty the plants were. The area was flooded in November.
We went for lunch at Cony Pizza! We saw a flier in the hotel and had to try it. Basically its a cone made out of pizza dough and filled with pizza toppings.
A fountain outside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Security was really tight and we could not take any pictures past this point.
After we walked through the mausoleum, we got to see where Uncle Ho used to live. On the way back they gave us our cameras so I was able to get a shot of Uncle Ho's resting place. It was pretty creepy honestly
Next we stopped at the Ho Chi Minh museum
Statue of Uncle Ho
The National Bank
Some beautiful flowers in the most expensive hotel in Hanoi, The Sofitel Metropole.
The group in front of the Christmas Tree at the Metropole.
And this is why we went... Chocolate Buffet!
Man we were stuffed!
And we got to take the leftovers back for those who didn't come.
Our final dinner: Kathy, Trish, Sarah and Jen
Colleen and Dr Ingle
Meghan and I
Marisa, Kelly, and Kim
Melissa, David and Dustin
After all of our group left, Colleen and I treated ourselves to Eggs Benedict at this awesome bistro down the street from our hotel, Five.
We found a cute place for lunch that overlooked the lake by our hotel, Hoan Kiem Lake
We went to this place to get a manicure and pedicure. They had a nice business card, but when we got there we decided on just getting manicures. It wasn't quite as nice as we had hoped. The real point of this picture is how much the Vietnamese worship their ancestors. Every store has one of these. They give their ancestors food and drinks. Sometimes they burn miniatures of things like cars and condos and that sends their ancestors those things. In this case, it looks like the ancestors liked to smoke. Check out the pot with incense and cigarette butts!
That night, Colleen and I went to Vincom Towers to see a movie. Outside they had a great Christmas scene. This snowman was enjoying some Heineken! The mall inside was pretty fancy and we thought we'd see a lot of foreigners but we didn't really.
On my last day there, we walked around this market near our hotel.
A really packed alley
They were setting up this stage outside our hotel... I left before the night, so I didn't get to see what was on the stage.
Vietnamese love to dress there kids up in Santa Clause outfits, however we didn't see any big fat Santa Clauses
The pagoda on Hoan Kiem Lake
A pretty horse inside the pagoda
Just like their ancestors, they give presents to Buddhas and pray for food, health, money, etc. Looks like someone wanted more Choco-Pies in their life... :)
St Joseph Cathedral