Our Holiday in North Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh), 6 – 12 October 2012

This final blog about our holiday is a continuation of my earlier four blogs:

7. Day 6: 11 October 2012

We were back from Ninh Binh in time for early dinner in the hotel before we set off for the Water Puppet Show at Thanglong Water Puppet Theatre.

Water Puppet Show (múa rối nước) is a famous traditional Vietnamese art that dates back as far as the 11th century. It is a unique heritage from the Red River (Sông Hồng) region in northern Vietnam. “múa rối nước” literally translates as “puppets that dance on water”. Today’s Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation of the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

The water puppet shows are predominantly in Vietnamese (language) and showcase the folklores and legends in Vietnam. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool.

At the entrance of the Thanglong Water Puppet Theatre.

Sarah and Juju enjoying a game while waiting for the show to start.

The show commenced…

The show…

A closer view of the puppets.

The puppeteers and their puppets.

The ending scene of the show.

8. Day 7: 12 October 2012

Today was the last day of our holiday in Northern Vietnam. After breakfast in the hotel, we were scheduled to walk around the Hanoi city to visit the Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, Quan Thanh Temple, West Lake, and Tran Quoc Pagoda.

Not too far from our hotel, we saw this old lady selling Cốm (fresh baby rice).

Cốm (fresh baby rice).

Hoan Kiem Lake, or the Lake of the Restored Sword, is located directly in the centre of Hanoi. The name is derived from a legend involving Emperor Le Thai To, in which he came across a giant tortoise while cruising on the lake. The tortoise took his sword that had secured victory against the Chinese aggressors of the Ming Dynasty. All attempts to find either the sword or the turtle failed. Emperor Le concluded that the Golden Turtle God had come to reclaim the sword that it had given him some time earlier, during his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty. The emperor named the lake to commemorate this event.

Our tour guide, Dai Thang, telling the story of the Hoan Kiem Lake behind him.

A gorgeous view surrounding the lake.

Extending the above fascinating view to the right.

Near the northern shore of the lake lies Jade Island on which the Ngoc Son Temple (or the Temple of the Jade Mountain) stands. This temple was erected in the 18th century. It honored the 13-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in the fight against the Yuan Dynasty. Jade Island is connected to the shore by the wooden, red lacquered The Huc Bridge (meaning Morning Sunlight Bridge).

The Huc Bridge (Cầu Thê Húc).

A beautiful view from The Huc Bridge of the city surrounding the lake.

Chan standing on The Huc Bridge leading to the Ngoc Son Temple.

The Ngoc Son Temple on Jade Island.

The inside of the Ngoc Son Temple.

A lady cleaning the incense pot.

Teachers leading little children to visit the temple.

The Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu) is a temple of Confucius in Hanoi, northern Vietnam. The temple hosts the “Imperial Academy” (Quốc Tử Giám), Vietnam’s first national university.

The temple was built in 1070 at the time of King Ly Nhan Tong. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which are dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. The temple is located to the south of Thang Long Citadel. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors are places where offering ceremonies, study sessions and the strict exams of the Dai Viet took place. The temple is featured on the back of the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote.

The entrance to the Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám.

Little children visiting the Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám. They are the future of Vietnam.

Tomy, James, Lum and Janet having fun with these little children.

Tomy standing in the Second Courtyard and next to the Constellation of Literature pavilion. This is the scene that is featured on the back of the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote.

Walking in the temple.

Turtle Steles with the names of those successful at the royal exams.

Orchestra performing traditional music.

In the Fourth Courtyard.

Our tour guide, Dai Thang, telling the story of the sacred relationship between the tortoise and the crane (standing on the former).

Altar to Chu Văn An, rector of the Imperial Academy.

On the way out, a pretty lady found James…

Quan Thanh Temple, formerly known as Tran Vu Temple, is a Taoist temple in Hanoi. Dated to the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to Xuan Wu, one of the principal deities in Taoism. It is located near West Lake.

The entrance to Quan Thanh Temple.

The compound within the temple.

West Lake (Ho Tay) is a freshwater lake in the center of Hanoi. With a shore length of 17 km, this is the largest lake of the capital and a popular place for recreation with many surrounding gardens, hotels and villas.

Walking towards the Tran Quoc Pagoda. On the left is the shore line of the West Lake.

Beautiful greenery along the shore line of the West Lake.

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi is the oldest pagoda in the city, originally constructed in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De, thus giving it an age of 1,400 years. When founded the temple was named Khai Quoc and was sited on the shores of the Red River, outside of the Yen Phu Dyke. When confronted with the river’s encroachment, the temple was relocated in 1615 to Kim Ngu islet of Ho Tay (West Lake) where it is now situated. A small causeway links it to the mainland.

The link to the entrance of Tran Quoc Pagoda.

The Tran Quoc Pagoda.

With that… we ended our holiday in North Vietnam. We next proceeded to take our last lunch before going for a last minute shopping and then to the airport. Myself, Brenda, Chin Heng, Tan Peng, Sarah and Juju left for Singapore. The rest of the team flown into Ho Chi Minh City for an extended two days of holiday there.

It was a fun packed holiday with this group. I have learnt much from this trip about the history of Vietnam, the people, their culture and daily lives in those places I visited. I hope my blogs can share insightful information with my team and for others who want to learn more about Vietnam and possibly go to this beautiful country for holidays.

Special thanks go to Chan for organizing this fantastic holiday. Thank you Tomy, Janet and Vincent for being a part of this enjoyable experience. Thank you Dai Thang, you are an excellent tour guide. Lastly, thank you everybody, you make it different. May God bless all of you with Joy, Good Health and Love plentifully!

Bye, bye Hanoi, Vietnam, we will be back again!

Before I leave I would like to dedicate this all-time favourite video to all of you: GANGNAM STYLE