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Published: February 25th 2014
Woken at 7am by a loud speaker just outside our room. It seems that the Vietnamese government likes to give a daily lecture to its people and there is no way to avoid it. Speakers on every corner of the city.
Once we had breakfasted, as we had had a good walk round old Hanoi yesterday we decided to explore further afield.
First of all to the Hoam Kien Lake in the centre of the city just below the Old Quarter, and then down the West side, a pleasant stroll under some amazing old trees which line the bank. After a coffee we headed for the Cathedral, Notre Dame a copy of that in Paris, as this is in the French Quarter of the city, Vietnam having been colonised by the French as part of Indochine from the late 1880s to the mid 1940s.
Not much to see here as the Cathedral was closed so next stop the “Hanoi Hilton”, correctly named Hỏa Lò Prison.
This was an excellent visit and gave us an great insight into the history of Vietnam as the prison was used first of all by the French to inter Vietnamese who objected
to the French takeover of their country and then by the Vietnamese to imprison the Americans who tried to do the same. The information boards were understandably very biased in favour of Vietnam, decrying French brutality towards the Vietnamese prisoners while praising the Vietnamese treatment of American prisoners.
From the prison we took a taxi to the Literature Temple which dates from 1070 and is the temple of Confucius, Vietnam’s first national university. This was quite a busy spot with several guided groups but as usual we did our own tour and found plenty of information boards with English explanations. Sometimes we are really pleased that English is the common international language and certainly here in Vietnam it is generally understood.
The temple has a series of gardens and courtyards and at the very end the temple building itself complete with statues to 3 notable Vietnamese kings and scholars in a very typical red and gold colour scheme. We were pleased we had chosen this site to visit, as it seemed a good representation of Vietnamese culture.
From the temple we took another taxi, to the Red river. But the river was not to be found.
Bob decided to search for it and found a bridge to take us there and we first of all ended up on the railway line itself. I was not impressed and declined to continue further as it looked rather a dangerous path to take. We retraced our steps and found the pathway proper along the side of the railway which was basically a foot and 2-wheel path but also sometimes accommodated a little truck or two. Very busy with a constant stream of buzzing traffic passing us by. Not sure how far it was across that bridge to the other side of the river but must have been at least half a mile. The river, once we reached it having crossed over allotments and a banana plantation, was just that, a waterway, very muddy, few boats and no buildings (sensible !) along the banks.
Once on the other side there was nothing to see so we grabbed another taxi (they are really quite cheap !) and returned to the hotel but by way of the other, road, bridge.
Had another excellent dinner, this time a traditional Vietnamese meal, followed by a walk round the busy, bustling, noisy
streets before retiring to our room for a rest.
We are very pleased to have found Hanoi as we like it very much.
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