FRIENDSHIP JOURNEY TO HANOI VIETNAM: NOVEMBER 17 t0 19, 2006
After visiting Ho Chi Minh City earlier there was a strong pull to visit the northern part of Vietnam. A visit to Hanoi was planned. The Air Asia package to the City made the planning of the visit easier. Accompanied by Kamariah, my wife, we departed by Air Asia flight AK 762 at 3.30 pm on Nov 17, 2006 for Hanoi. It was a generally smooth flight in Airbus 320 taking 3 hrs and 15 mts to get to Hanoi from Kuala Lumpur. We stayed at Rose Hotel. The trip was a short one – only two days and we visited the following places:
a. Halong Bay. The visit to HB was scheduled on the second day of the trip (Nov 18)gIt was a a three-and-half hours drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay. We took a ship to cruise among the many islands which form the 1969 islands of the Halong Bay Archipelago situated in the Bay of Tonkin. The islands are estimated to exist for 250 to 280 million years ago, made up of either limestone and schist geology. As usually common in this geological rock, there are many unique and beautiful formations in the many caves and grottoes. We visited one of the big caves with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. The marine ecosystem of the Archipelago is rich in biodiversity registering 450 sp of shellfish and 200 sp of fish. The many islands with myriads of rock formation and the rich biodiversity make the Archipelago unique and a tourist attraction. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.
b. Hanoi got its name from two words: Ha – river, Noi – interior. The city came into existence in 208 BC, initially under Chinese influence. It has a long history of Chinese and French colonialism. Accordingly its city landscape provides a unique architecture of beautiful colonial villas, buildings and large trees. The 18 lakes found in the city add to its attractive ambience. We went on the city tour on the third day of the visit and the following paragraphs provide brief background information on the places of interest we visited.
c. Van Miew-Quoc Tu Giam. This tourism attraction consists of the Temple of Literature and the first university in Vietnam. It was built in 1070 in honour of Confucius. The University was first opened to serve the royal family and later admitted talented students. Thousand of scholars had gone through its door and the achievements of its students are inscribed on stele erected.
d. Kim Lien Pagoda. The pagoda is located on the bank of West Lake. It was built in 1631 and the special attraction of the structure is the intricate architecture of its gate.
e. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum. The Mausoleum and Museum was built in 1990 and opened on the birthday anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh, May 19. The main hall of the Museum contains exhibits that occurred during President’s life and important events that happened in the rest of the world.
f. Museum of Ethnoloy. The museum houses exhibits which depict all aspects of life - culture, custom and religious practices of the 54 ethnic groups living in Vietnam.