We visited Vietnam just before Tet, the Lunar New Year, and the entire country was abuzz with preparations for the most important celebration of the year. Flowers are in abundance, towns are being decorated, people are traveling to be with family, homes are getting a thorough cleaning, and temporary buildings/markets are going up.
In the colder climate of Hanoi, the peach blossom is the symbol of spring.
|Mike behind a blooming peach tree.|
|Our guide and I got excited over one little bloom.|
Hanoi was unusually cold and wet when we were there, and we saw many small sidewalk fires where people huddled around to visit or eat a meal. It was quite a shock going from the 90 degrees of Cambodia to the 40 degrees of Hanoi. It is also a challenge to pack adequate clothing for all the weather we encountered. In other words, Mike and I shivered in Hanoi!
Our day sight-seeing in Hanoi included visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (no photos allowed inside), the Museum of Ethnicity, the One Pillar Pagoda, and the Temple of Literature.
|One Pillar Pagoda|
The Museum of Ethnnology covers the 54 minorities of Vietnam, showing tribal art, artifacts and everyday objects. There are also several examples of traditional village houses.
I really noticed how clean the city is. Everywhere we went in Vietnam we saw lovely gardens, bonsai, and topiaries.
The Temple of Literature was the first University in Vietnam. It was built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. Like so many places we visited, it was hard to know what was original and what has been rebuilt due to age and war.
|Have Bonsai, Will Travel|
|Hoan Kim Lake|
Our second day in Hanoi, we traveled by car, then by boat, and finally by foot and cable car to reach the Perfume Pagoda. The Day River has several sacred places as it winds up into the limestone mountains of northern Vietnam.
This is a traveling coffee shop!
There was an unbelievable amount of building going on in preparations for the hundreds of thousands of people who will make this pilgrimage during the New Year celebration.
Our lunch stop. An open, cave like setup which could serve a hundred people. I did a bit of garlic peeling. After lunch, up the mountain we went, but enjoyed the decorative art along the way.
The inside of this cave is the Pagoda, or place of worship.
Soon we were back in the boat making our way back to the city of Hanoi.