Saturday, April 19

Hanoi Trip

Three sisters, one destination. Me, Aki ria and Diki Marie boarded the shuddering Cebu Pacific Plane praying the Maiden Flight won't end up like Titanic. I know back in our minds, we were singing "On a Maiden Voyage, One a Maiden Voyage..."
Thank God, we landed! And lived to get conned by a colorum "taxi." Yes, we are not the only country with colorum taxis and taxis who tamper their meters. The good people of Hanoi may prefer to use motorbikes but that doesn't stop road accidents. they are hell-drivers, very much like us!
So, we immersed ourselves in culture and history. Going around one of Hanoi's most important Lakes, Hoan Kiem. Hoan Kiem Lake is the center of commerce in Hanoi. The Old District surrounds the small pond-like lake. Legend says that the old emperor took a boat trip in the lake and a giant turtle appeared and gave him a golden sword which he used to win a war. After, the turtle took it back and was never seen. You can find a stuffed giant turtle in the pagoda in the middle of the lake. Strange such big creatures actually exist in the small lake. Whether the turtle is the actual turtle of the story, no one can confirm nor deny.
The shopping district is basically everywhere close to the lake. You can buy anything and everything if you can find the streets. The Old Hanoi were ruled by guilds. Each street had its own wares, its own guild. So, you may find yourself in a street full of Musical instruments, a street of shoes, lapidaries or a street of greeting cards. There are no malls so you can find Nine West in front of the Lake. It is a law in Hanoi not to demolish old structures especially in the Old District. but they are renovated. The downstairs are all turned commercial but the top floors retain their colonial touches. By the way, Vietnam was conquered by the French.

So you can see a lot of the French influences like architecture food and theatres. It was to our delight that Hanoi has an Opera House and we were fortunate to be at the last night of the Spring Ballet entitles "Chopiniana" and for the second part, West Side Story.

Vietnamese culture cannot be complete without a Vietnamese Theatre. In front of Hoan Kiem lake is the Water Puppet Theatre where the famous art form is performed with traditional music using traditional instruments are used. The Water Puppet performance are little segments depicting Vietnamese life and culture like Dragon Dance, Dance of the Phoenix, Planting Rice, Catching Frogs, The story of the Emperor and the Turtle (One where the emperor is given the Sword and its return). Of course there is also a segment where a Scholar returns home and the whole town celebrates.
Do you think Valentines Day is popular in Hanoi? Nothing can compare to teachers day. Flower prices rise tenfold during Teachers Day. Vietnamese revere their teachers. A one point in history, they were revered as gods.
To me and my two sis' delight, we found a place of reverence to one of the most important things in our life, Literature. We went to the Temple of Literature. It was built by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1070. Later it was made into "University of the Sons of the Nation," Hanoi's first university. Today, we find the names of the scholars and teachers immortalized in stone on the back of stone turtles.

After seven days, we ready to go home. Bringing culture, memory and a whole bunch of silks, we arrived in Manila, tired and hungry. Nope, Cebu Pacific did not feed us in the four-hour journey plus one hour delay. And Hanoi Airport closes its restaurant at ten so no food for us.
But boy! What experiences we now carry, from the trip to the tours to going home, our Hanoi experience is incomparable. One day, we hope to return and tour more sights that were not part of the itinerary we set for ourselves. We would also wish to see Saigon, Ho Chi Min and possible take the train up all the way to Beijing. It is a ten-hour experience!

No comments:

NaNo Stats