Once again I seem to have managed to get horrendously behind in my blog posts! And yet once again I have my excuses. Bad wifi connection in more hostels than I want to remember, a VPN that refused to work, TEFL paperwork to fill out, a dissertation to start reading for. But now that I have some additional free time and some of those excuses have been completed it’s time to start catching up!
The adventure this year began in Hanoi, Vietnam! The journey over took around 24 hours and three flights, so by the end of it I was very glad to reach our first hotel. Once again I’ve gone through trusty Hostel World to find all my accommodation and once again things seem to have worked out pretty well. In Hanoi we stayed at ‘Hanoi Old Town Hotel’ which I would definitely recommend. Cheap, free breakfast, nice clean rooms, towels provided and really helpful staff, so overall a really good place to stay.
Our first evening we simply went out for a quick meal and then all collapsed into bed – although with the six hour time difference from England we quickly found that sleep wasn’t as easy to get as we were hoping!
Our first full day in Hanoi began with a visit to see Hoan Kiem Lake, and the beautiful bridge there. We then walked around the lake up to Hoa Lo Prison. A tip for anyone visiting Hanoi, the tour books and websites all told us that the prison would be closed on a Monday. However, since Monday was our only day in Hanoi we decided to visit anyway to see if it was open by any chance – and it was! I can’t be sure that this means it’s always open on a Monday, but this does make me wary of information to do with opening times.
Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton is one of those places where it’s incredibly interesting to see, and yet you feel as though you shouldn’t enjoy seeing it. A piece of history that shows the terrible way that the locals were treated by the French. There are signs there in English which is helpful for learning about the history, although of course these do present a very Vietnamese view of events and act as political propaganda. But it’s definitely a site I think everyone should see whilst in the city.
Our next stop of the day was to the Temple of Literature. This is a gorgeous Temple of Confucius built in 1070, and became Vietnam’s first national university. It’s a beautiful building to walk around and the history of the site is amazing to me.
I was last in Vietnam with my family when I was 17 years old. This temple is one of the things that I remember most clearly from my visit then and going back them reminded me exactly why that is. Maybe I simply like Temples, maybe there’s something about it being a Temple of Literature specifically that interests me. Whatever it is, I know that this is one of the first places I will always think of when I think about Vietnam!
“Traveling isn’t something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.” Gayle Foreman