We started the next day early in order to be on our way to Tran Quoc Pagoda at West Lake. From what I see, the morning in Vietnam starts very early too. The streets around the hotel were already lively and busy. There’re plenty of locals going around with their morning routines. Exercising, heading to the markets, having breakfast or enjoying the fragrant cups of coffee. It’s one great experience to soak in the sights, smells and sounds during the early hours. Good morning Hanoi!!
Took a taxi from May De Ville Old Quarter Hotel, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a 10-15 minutes ride away depending on the traffic. Similar to Ngoc Son Temple at Hoan Kiem Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda resides on a small island at West Lake but seems way more crowded. This is, after all, the most ancient and famous pagoda in Hanoi.
The Buddhist site was built during the 6th century on the bank of Red River before relocated here during the 17th century, which means it’s approximately 1,500 years old! Wow!!
And the tall Pagoda, which has 11 levels and 6 arch windows on each level. Inside every arch window sits a Buddha statue made of precious stones.
Didn’t stay here for long, was soon on our way to the next destination and came across many locals who were fishing along the lake. That’s when I took notice of West Lake, which is several times larger than Hoan Kiem Lake.
The rubbish bin with smiley faces.
From Tran Quoc Pagoda, we proceed to the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Vietnam Military History Museum on foot. The museum showcases the country’s turmoil past during the wars, making it a good place to learn more about Vietnamese history. And it’s nice to see the story from the other side of the coin. Since most historical books tend to be a little bias against Communism.
The walk brought us to the imposing Presidential Palace which it’s a nice looking colonial building but its interior décors aren’t meant for the public eyes.
We also passed by Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a large memorial where the embalmed body of Uncle Ho is kept. In order to preserve his remains, the body undergoes preventive maintenance in Russia from October to November annually. And that’s actually opposite from his will. The former president had wished to be cremated and his ashes scattered across this country. Why like that?
Also, the guards here meant business, do as what’s written on the signs around the memorial.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The nearby Ho Chi Minh Museum is another site dedicated to the late Vietnamese leader. It showcases his life through photographs and documents that are exhibited. I have new found respect for this man adored by the Vietnamese, who did so much for his country during his lifetime. Who knows how Vietnam might turn out today without his drive and vision?
On the second level is a welcoming statue of Uncle Ho.
Vietnam Military History Museum
The next museum highlights Vietnam’s military history in depth which makes it one great place for war history buff. There are different sections representing different era like French colonisation period and American War.
On displays inside Vietnam Military History Museum are plenty of weapons and military manoeuvre maps.
But the more impressive stuff is outside the buildings where Hanoi Flag Tower stands. The hexagonal stone tower is the centrepiece of Vietnam Military History Museum and a symbol of Hanoi.
I took the ‘potentially-knee-killer’ spiral staircases to the viewing room at the tower’s top.
I get the overview of the main attractions here which are the ‘war souvenirs’. They consist of American planes, helicopters, tanks and wrecks at its courtyard area.
A closer look at the souvenirs…
The one which caught my attention was this ‘sculpture’ made up of wrecked B-52 bomber remnants and the picture of that female soldier dragging the wreckage. I am not entirely sure about the meaning behind this propaganda. But I do know B-52 bomber was the symbol of American Air Force’s might during that era.
What do you think?