Temple of Literature…Heading to Cambodia today…

Entrance to the Temple of Literature.
At 12:30 pm today we’ll be checking out of the stellar five star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and heading to the Noi Bai International airport by bus. We have an included flight through Viking cruises to Cambodia, the next leg of our land and Mekong River journey.
Beautiful manicure grounds of the temple.

Although we don’t particularly care for bus or group tours, this 54 passenger manifest feels small and intimate. Already, we’ve come to know a few other passengers and look forward to many more pleasant conversations and shared activities. 

Apparently, the Temple of Literature is busy most days.

Viking Cruise Line’s reputation for excellence is evident in all the activities thus far with the utmost of class and organization. Nothing is spared in providing each passenger with care and diligent attention to detail.

The Chinese language and the French influence attributed to the Vietnamese language.

Our tour guide, Kong, took a photo on his phone on the food list on my phone. As a result, last night’s dinner at the upscale Nineteen11 Restaurant located in the Hanoi Opera House was prepared to perfection with Kong’s assistance in working with the restaurant staff. That’s the type of service we’re receiving on this adventure. Over the top.

A body of water on the grounds of the temple.

They specially made pumpkin soup for me which was quite a treat. The Australian filet mignon was cooked to perfection with a side of butter sautéed bok choy with garlic, a fabulous side I’d never considered. 

The Temple of Literature was built in 1070.

Tom enjoyed his soup, salad, bread and similar steak with mashed potatoes and vegetable coulis as well as a beautifully prepared Vietnamese dessert.   

There were many areas of the temple to investigate.

I’m in a bit of a quandary posting all these tours. We have more photos than space or time to share of these experiences in Hanoi. Since we’ll in Cambodia by dinner tonight and don’t want to miss sharing some of the integral experiences we’ve had in Hanoi, we’ll continue with Hanoi stories over the next few days and “catch up” as we move along in Cambodia. 

The crowds gathered on their path to the main part of the temple.
Animal lawn sculpture in the temple.

In the event we aren’t able to catch up with so many tours ahead, we may decide to save some of the photos to share after the cruise ends while we’re living in Phuket for six weeks at a considerably slower pace. This whirlwind trip makes the appeal of Phuket’s easy lifestyle all the more appealing.

The historic architecture if beautiful not unlike Hindu temples we visited in Bali. Although Vietnam is a communist country, people are free to choose their religious beliefs as long as they don’t interfere politically.

How did I weather yesterday’s full day of touring? It was a challenge walking the long distances while navigating lots of stairs and uneven walkways. 

There’s no way this photo indicates how hot we were.

Add the scorching sun, heat and humidity and there were moments I wondered if I could continue on. Tom, of course, walked slowly and gingerly alerting me to every step change and holding my hand even as both of our hands were dripping with sweat. 


My desire to see everything and to take photos kept me motivated enough to keep going. The tour provided us with unlimited supplies of chilled bottled water, which we guzzled continuously. Each time we neared a patch of shade, Kong alerted us to take cover. We weren’t the only ones sweating profusely. 

Inside the temple.

Since most of the passengers are as old or older than us, they too suffered along with us.  Cambodia is supposedly much hotter and more humid. Today, I feel a little better as I continue to heal and hope by the most challenging of the upcoming tours, Ankor Wat, that I’ll be able to participate.

Statue of Confucius.

Hanoi’s temperature yesterday was 98F, 37C with 80% humidity. I can’t imagine Cambodia would be a whole lot worse. When we struggled through the heat (and my continuing pain) many times we discussed what the soldiers went through in this horrid weather during the war. 

Most revered statue of Confucius in the temple.

On several occasions, those sad thoughts made me give myself a mental slap to tough it out.

Touching the breast of this bird statue with the right hand and the touching the head of the turtle below with one’s left hand is considered “yin and yang” allowing good fortune to flow through the participant. Tom was able to do this but I did so with caution, unable to easily bend down.

Today’s photos are from yesterday’s visit to the Temple of Literature. Future photos will continue of the Hanoi Hilton, (the prison), the Ho Chi Minh Memorial and the city tour we took this morning in small motorized vehicles through streets in the Old Quarter, inaccessible by cars or buses. It was quite an adventure in itself.

A religious service was being conducted while we visited.

Since we’re leaving soon, I’ll only have time to post photos and will do as many captions as time allows. Back at you soon from Cambodia! 

There was a lily pond on the grounds.

Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2015:

The boat launch at Holloways Beach leading to a river that heads to the sea. It is this type of location where people are attacked by crocs which are commonly found on beached in Australia.  For more details please click here.

Our first cruise tour in Hanoi…Vietnam Museum of Ethnology…

The bright red color of this Hoa, or ethnic Chinese wedding dress is intended to bring happiness, good luck and a prosperous future. The Hoa in Vietnam continue to maintain customs from their provinces of origin, mainly in Southern Chine. Many Hoa is involved in trade in urban areas, primarily in Ho Chi Minh City where we’ll soon visit.

Both of us were up and getting ready for the day before 6:00 am determined to keep from having to rush to any of the mornings activities. First on the agenda was the breakfast buffet in the Vietnamese Spice Restaurant located in the hotel.

It was busy at both tourist venues not only with our groups but many others.

As we were seated, we could sense the influx of other cruise passengers when we detected many American accents, something we hadn’t heard in a long time. On the cruise in April from Sydney to Singapore supposedly there were 17 Americans on board but we never met one.

This wall indicted the 54 separate ethnicities of the people of Vietnam. For more on this, please click here.

In January, on the cruise from Sydney to Auckland there were a reported 200 Americans on board, but here again, we only met a few. On this 56 passenger cruise, we expect that  approximately 46 of the passengers are from the US.

A bicycle pulling a variety of styles of fishing traps.

Not that the nationality of other cruisers matters to us. Not after all this time. But, it is fun to hear the familiar accents from throughout the country and chat with people who may have lived near us and been where we’ve been in the past.

Ceremonial attire.

After a chatty breakfast we all headed to a meeting room for a 30 minute intro to the cruise and its varying nuances, precautions and general instructions. We’re assigned to Group A which comprises half of the manifest with Kong as our red-shirted tour guide and host. 

Centuries old furnishings and artifacts.

Kong is a highly entertaining and friendly Vietnamese fellow who’s is easy to understand and extremely  well organized. By 8:45 we were on the Group A red modern and air conditioned bus containing a cooler with chilled water bottles for us at no charge. It’s been one hot and humid day to say the least!

Vietnamese ritual dolls.

Each of us were given a QuietVox audio headset to use during many aspects of the cruise/tour.  The last time we’d used such a devise was in Versailles in Paris in August, 2014 on a very rainy day. This is especially helpful for Tom with his difficulty in hearing after all those 42 years on the railroad.

In the countryside, when an elder reaches 60 years of age, a coffin is made for them and kept under the house until they pass away.  Once they’re buried three meals a day is delivered to the burial site to support the deceased in their journey to heaven. After the three years, a special celebration is held and the soul is released to heaven.

The morning’s plan was to first visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and then drive to a well known temple in Hanoi, the Temple of Literature, a popular tourist venue on a list of many interesting and revered temples.

Household decorations.

As much as we’d like to get into the details of Vietnamese history, with each day jammed packed with activities and meals, we won’t have time to elaborate on what we’ve learned.  

Example of a house in the country.

Right now, we have 75 minutes to upload photos, complete this post (during an on-your-own-lunch-break) and upload it until we’re off again for the next three hour tour to the famous “Hanoi Hilton” which we’ll write about in tomorrow’s post. 

More hand crafted decorations.

We’ll return to the hotel at 5:00 pm, shower and change for dinner, meet our new friends at 5:30 for one last 50 minute happy hour (they actually aren’t leaving until tomorrow) and then walk the short distance to the Hanoi Opera House where we’ll dine for a prearranged dinner with the two groups at 6:30 pm.

Halloween is observed by some Vietnamese people and thus, this scary mask.

Tomorrow morning, we’re off on another tour and then will board the bus at 12:30 pm for the airport for our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia arriving at 5:30 pm. We’ll check in to the hotel, another Sofitel, and then head to a buffet dinner at 7:00 pm. Another very busy day!

Weaving of fine cloths.

How am I holding up? I’ll admit its not as easy as I’d hoped by this date but I’m managing thanks to the expert help of my attentive and thoughtful husband who holds me up, holds my hand and monitors every step I take to ensure my safe stepping over some rough and uneven steps and terrain. 

Women’s garment.

I’m going to do this, that’s all there is to it. And darn it all, I’ll treasure every moment. I took almost 100 photos this morning, even after all the rejects I’ve since deleted on the bus on the return drive, I look forward to taking hundreds more.

Artistic wooden renditions.

So bear with us.  We’ll post everyday but the timing may be sketchy at times. If you check back a few times a day, you’ll see us here with all new photos and updates on the day’s activities.  Tomorrow, we’ll post photos from the Temple of Literature based on today’s time constraints.

The grounds are kept meticulously groomed surrounding the museum.

Unfortunately, we have no alternative but to keep most of the photo captions to a minimum since it takes considerable time to look up the information online for each display. If something catches your eye, please write to us and we’ll get back to you with more information.

There’s symbolism in artistic works.

It’s hard for us to believe we are here and on this amazing journey in a land that holds many sad heart wrenching memories for soldiers and their loved ones not only from the US but several other countries. 

A display of typical family life in centuries past in Vietnam.

We express our love and appreciation to every soldier and their families as we’ll express every word and thought contained herein over these next few weeks with them in our hearts and minds.

Photo from one year ago today, July 9, 2015:

A peacock with another bird we couldn’t identify down the road from our vacation home in trinity Beach, Australia. For more photos, please click here.