The to-read list is piling up!
“The “world” – the word always makes me think of a tortoise and elephants tirelessly supporting a gigantic disc. The elephants have no knowledge of the tortoise’s role, the tortoise is unable to see what the elephants are doing. And neither is least aware of the world on their backs.”
“No promises you’re gonna be happy, the Sheep Man had said. So you gotta dance. Dance so it all keeps spinning.”
Maybe we all have a Sheep Man within us. In the other world, in the other part of us, kept hidden, sometimes even from ourselves.
We’re just too caught up in the world of advanced capitalism to see It.
In a kingdom of their own,
The clouds float, Careless and Free
In their spare time, they look and giggle at the beings below
Who mill around
Seeking what already exists within.
Our final full day in Hanoi was spent exploring the French Quarter.
First stop was the infamous Hoa Lo prison, where we were duly educated on how the Vietnamese Freedom Fighters were horribly mistreated by French colonialists, and how American pilots incarcerated here during the Vietnam War were given great respect and freedom within the prison.
Certainly got us thinking about historical perspectives.
The exhibits and structures made the visit meaningful enough, albeit a little chilling, when you think about the numbers who suffered and died.
Lunch was delicious Vietnamese Vegetarian fare, and dessert was a lovely cat with the loudest Meow.
The afternoon was spent walking down lanes, exploring book stores, sitting down to read at an outdoor cafe near the Opera House (until some bees started harassing us) and catching a film (The classic “Nutcracker”) at the Hanoi Cinematheque. There were less than 7 people in the cosy theatre. Absolutely Perfect.
The day ended with us attending a concert at the Hanoi Opera House. A concert to commemorate ___ years of Vietnam-Korea relations, and the 100th Anniversary of the Opera House.
A perfect ending to a perfect day.
And with this, we have come to the end of our adventure in Hanoi.
Did I mention, perfect?
Names which, when pronounced by locals sound as elegant and as beautiful as the places themselves, but when pronounced by us, sound like some Vietnamese vulgarity (if they have any).
Did you know that HoaLu was the ancient capital of Vietnam?
A serene and lovely place. Full of ancient kingly vibes.
At Tam Coc, we met this cute and greedy goat. Fed him some biscuits and he was all over us in seconds.
The highlight of the day would have to be the sail down the river at Tam Coc. Caves such as this one below made me jittery like crazy. For one, I was really worried that either one of us, or worse still – the boat lady – might hit our head against the low ceiling and suffer a concussion. Secondly, I was quite sure I saw a bat. A dormant bat, but a bat, nonetheless.
But oh well. It was all worth it, considering the close to 2 hours of immersion in pristine nature!
Besides the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Mausoleum and Living Quarters, what else is there to explore in Hanoi’s Old Quarters?
As I found out today, Plenty!
Tucked inside a small and narrow lane, a soft-spoken old Uncle makes and sells personalized stamps here. It was amazing just looking at his wide catalog range.
Loved this street which had at least 3-4 different shops selling Propaganda Posters. For the history buffs in us, it was (almost) like heaven!
One of my purchases (: I think I’m beginning to develop a liking for Uncle Ho.
Our explorations also brought us to this old Cathedral in the city. It was a real respite from the endless flow of motor vehicles and jarring noise. Spent quite a while roaming the grounds, taking pictures, and soaking in the peacefulness of the grand structure.
And in the middle of it all, we managed to find time just to sit, relax, drink tea, read and be absorbed in our own worlds.
Being the good tourists we are, we went on a day tour to Halong Bay.
It was breathtakingly beautiful.
I know I’m such an urban mountain tortoise, but I have seriously never had the chance to sail in an open bay and be surrounded by so much natural beauty before.
And, I did not expect this:
This cave was well-lit (though I wish there could have been more natural lighting instead of artificial lights), filled with people (tourists) and well-paved paths to walk on. I wish we could have spent more time exploring.
All in all, definitely a once-in-my-lifetime experience.