A day out in... Hanoi
Cox & Kings client Barbara Wilcox visited Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia on our Grand Tour of Indochina. Here, Barbara shares with us the details of her day spent in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi.
This tour gave an extremely comprehensive view of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I would describe it as a journey of discovery. We learned so much about the history and cultural backgrounds of these people. We were amused, surprised, enthralled and shocked at some of what we saw. The tour brought many delights each day. Here, I will detail just one day in particular, as I really would not want to spoil the magic of surprise for anyone, but hopefully this will give an insight as to how the average day went.
First we visited the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum where we had to stand in line having given all our belongings to the guide – no personal items are allowed to be carried into the mausoleum. We filed through in a silent single file to pay our respects; the guards were constantly watching our every move, so it was quite a relief to come out into the beautiful grounds to see the Presidential Palace and the house on stilts where he lived and worked. The whole site symbolised his way of simplicity, modesty, gentleness and dedication for the nation and the people. We continued our walk to the One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple with a fascinating history, and then to the Museum of Ethnology, where the exhibits illustrate the culture of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups. In the grounds, there were a number of traditionally designed homes and houses; there was much climbing up and down of ladders to view rooms. We loved the Bahnar communal house, which is 19 metres high and is the symbol of skill, and strength of the villagers.
We took lunch in the Koto restaurant right on the rooftop, with a perfect bird’s eye view of the city. The brain child of an Australian-Vietnamese man Mr Jimmy Pham, Koto stands for ‘know one, teach one’. It is a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training programme that is changing the lives of many of the street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam, We certainly all approved of our guide’s choice of lunch venue.
Our afternoon started with a trip to the Temple of Literature. This was the first university in Vietnam, dating back to 1070 and built by King Ling Ly Nha Tong to dedicate to Confucius, sages and scholars; a beautiful site with lakes, courtyards and museum. This was followed by a cycle-tour of the old French quarter of the city – we thought London was busy, but the traffic really has to be seen to be believed.
We arrived safely at the Water Puppet Theatre in time to see the most amazing performance of traditional legends and historical tales accompanied by superb musicians. Our day finished at a local restaurant enjoying a magnificent spread of local cuisine. This really had been a full fun packed day, but only one among the 21 we enjoyed.
We had a wonderful trip, enjoyable, exhilarating and exhausting. Would we do it again? Absolutely – that is, after we have gone through the rest of the trips in the Cox & Kings brochure…