Culture, Chopsticks And A Bloody Big Cathedral
Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
56Trip End Ongoing
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The old quarter is a maze of streets, each selling something different. We walk down Shoe Street, onto Flower Street, turn right onto Neon Sign Making Street, then we make a left onto Pots And Pans Street.... Every stretch of road has a multitude of shops all selling the same thing, at first it's crazy to our western eyes but it soon becomes the norm. The buildings here are a mixture of different architectural styles and influences, but they do share a common factor, they are all really thin and really tall. Most shop fronts / hotels / homes / workshops are all the width of a large room, but they are tall (our hotel is 8 floors) and just as deep
We walk to the lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple which houses a giant mummified turtle. It is massive and a bit creepy (the turtle, not the temple). The temple and ancient artifacts are interesting and the surrounding view of the lake amplifies the serenity of the place. Leaving the solitude of the lake we walk the busy streets until we come to the Hanoi History Museum. Before we indulge in looking at stuff in the museum, we have a bite to eat in a cafe. It is Anna's first ever attempt at using chopsticks and she has ordered noodle soup. She is not happy. After struggling for a while (...while the waitress laughs) she is rewarded with a fork and spoon. Although she struggles, it is a start and in time she will no doubt become a master of the wooden cutlery.
We look at stuff in the museum. It is a wonderful building and it houses a number of extremely interesting pieces. The artifacts date from prehistoric time right through to the present day, giving a brief history of Vietnam. We depart the museum full of culture and knowledge. We are feeling brave and are still hungry for more culture so we catch a cyclo to the Temple of Literature
By the time we are close to home the light has faded. Hanoi is just as vibrant after dark as it is in the light of day and the walk along Neon Sign Street keeps us alert, along with the swarms of moped beams whizzing past. Out of the darkness we see a strange sight. Someone has plonked a large gothic cathedral on the corner of the road. It is called St. Joseph's and to say the bulding is a bit out of place would be an understatement. We walk around it and have a quick nosey inside before mass starts. Very odd. Then it's time for food and sleep. We have looked at a lot of stuff today and our eyes are tired. Good night Vietnam.