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Archive for February, 2015

Hue in Pictures

Stories about Hue to follow next blog. Thanks a mill for waiting

via Hue in Pictures.

Hue in Pictures

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Stories about Hue to follow next blog. Thanks a mill for waiting….

It may be hard to believe but it’s true, Ha Long Bay dates back to a tectonic age from 250 to 280 million years ago. And at that time, the entire area is totally submerged in water

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Legend has it that the Gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. When the Great Mother Dragon plunged into the sea, thousands of tiny islands sprung up like perils from the ocean floor which linked together to form a great wall of protection against invaders. The name, Ha Long  means’ Descending Dragon’ After the defeat of the invading forces the dragon family decided the live in the bay, the mother in Ha Long bay and the dragon children,in Ba Tu Long bay.

The islands of Ha Long Bay are one of the most ancient geographical sites in the world dating back to a tectonic age from 250 to 280 million years ago. At that time residues suggest that the bay was totally submerged in water.

In 1994 and 1997 respectively, Ha Long Bay -encompassing 434 square kilometers and 755 islands, was listed as a ‘World Natural Heritage Site’ by UNESCO under the selection criteria of

  • natural phenomena of exceptional natural beauty
  • major stages of earth’s history including
    • The record of life – sedimentary deposits containing the remains of flora and fauna from ancient past including plants and animals that are now extinct
    • Geological process in the development of land forms. As far as I can understand, these land forms are the result of complex geological process of the earth and sea movements over 5 hundred million years ago- imagine that!

Before leaving Ha Long we take a swim near Tein Ong Cave where Swedish archaeologist, J G Anderson in 1938 discovered remnants of Stone Age Man

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Note to self.

In Ha Long Bay  I am humbled by the splendid beauty of God’s creation.

A poem I wrote a long time ago comes to mind.

All that matters in the end is love shared with family and friends.

Everything else is just passing by.

Here for the briefest of moments.

An interlude

A tiny tiny starlight in a vast timeless sky.

A final note to self

Lets  pray that this miracle of creation  will remain  free from oil pollution,  as we tourists travel over these exquisite waters in our oil fueled luxury cruisers.

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Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum..

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Photo: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.IMG_2004

In May 1890 Ho Chi Minh is born and on 2nd September 1969 he dies.

During his life he becomes a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader, Prime minister (1945 – 1955) and President (1945 -69).

Throughout his life he is an inspiration for those Vietnamese fighting for a united communist Vietnam, By some, he is fondly referred to with great reverence and respect, as Uncle Ho  or The Father.

After the war, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam is renamed after him, Saigon becomes Ho Chi Minh City.

He body lies in state behind the guarded marble walls, a stark contrast to his home and gardens which are close by

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Photo: Ho Chi Minh House

Photo: Banana Tree disguising bomb shelter beside Ho Chi Minh House

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Do you know that there are heaps of different ethnic groups living in in Vietnam? Nope? Me neither.

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Nor do I realise that while the food in Vietnam has whole lot Viet in it, there is also is a bit of Chinese, a bit Thai and a touch of Japanese, all thrown in for good measure. It’s the eclectic combination of spices, texture and freshness that makes it nectar for the Gods.

Likewise diversity of the local people, add to color and atmosphere to streets.

So, it would be remiss of me if I did not travel to the Museum of Ethnology and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to discover for myself a tiny bit about how this this multicultural society with exquisite food evolved.

The Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi.

The first thing I discover, that while  the majority of people of Vietnam come from  the Veit (or Kinh) group,which according to the records in the museum.  make up to 86% of the total population,  there are in fact 54 different ethnic groups belonging to 5 ethnolinguistic families.

Note to self

Imagine that! 5 different languages are spoken by the people of VietnamBefore I continue to look at a few of the main ethnic groups, let me  tell you a bit about this very impressively interesting museum.

In 1986 the area where The Museum of Ethnology will stand in the future, is now a wilderness of rice fields.

In 1987 building The Museum of Ethnology is commenced .

In  1995 the museum is completed .

It is located in Nguyen van Huyen Road which is purposely built for the museum, in the Cau Giay District which is about 8 km from Hanoi’s city center.

This large spacious museum consists of two parts an inner exhibition and outer exhibition.

The inner exhibition has over 15,000 artifacts like the one included in this post.

The original Ritual pole is about 13 meters high and is made from bamboo strips, divided into 3 separate movable parts which have a deep symbolic meeting. The Top part is for the heavens, the bottom for the People and the inner part for the Earth.

This ritual pole is used by the Co tribe people during Thanks Giving Festivals.

The upper portion of the pole allows the Drongo bird to turn in the wind, connecting the spirit word to human beings.

Note to self

Yes once again, the Symbol of the Trinity dominates even in the religious festivals of tribal  people!

There has to be a deeper reason for such unity in man’s search for meaning? Don’t you think?

Other groups of note in this museum are the ethnic Chinese group-The Hoa, known for their bright red colours which prevail throughout Vietnam. Many Hoa are involved in trade primarily around Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cham people can be found in the plains and coastal regions near Hue, and unlike most of Vietnam their religious practices differ also. With these people Islam and Hinduism is introduced into the culture. I will come back to these prople when we visit Hue.

Outside is the open Air Exhibition  the houses of the different ethnic groups, including the Bahnar communal house and Ede longhouse  are built to exact proportions in keeping with the local traditions.

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Photo: Paul and I outside Ede longhouse: Paul beside the male entrance is on the left and I am beside the female entrance on the right

Photo Bahnar communal house

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 Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

In May 1890 Ho Chi Minh is born and on 2nd September 1969 he dies.

During his life he becomes a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader, Prime minister (1945 – 1955) and President (1945 -69).

Throughout his life he is an inspiration for those Vietnamese fighting for a united communist Vietnam.

By some, he is fondly referred to with great reverence and respect, as Uncle Ho  or The Father.

After the war, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam is renamed after him, Saigon becomes Ho Chi Minh City.

He body lies in state behind the guarded marble walls, a stark contrast to his home and gardens which are close by.

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 Photo: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

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Photo: Banana Tree disguising bomb shelter beside Ho Chi Minh House

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Photo: Ho Chi Minh House

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Note to Self

Hanoi is one big city. Of about 6.5 million people, so please accept my rendition as a glimpse of a tiny proportion of it.

When we visited Hanoi, we stayed in Anise Hotel, right in the center of the Old district which is fantastic.

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Photo: Anise Hotel.

Across the road from our hotel is a small gardens with a war monument.

Every morning from 5am until 7am Tai Chi is practiced religiously by the local people, to be followed by breakfast, usually Pho (noodle soup) and fresh spring rolls.

As far as I can understand – although I am no expert, Tai Chi is a martial art form that dates back 2000 years to Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy.

The aim of Tai Chi is fuse opposite forces of Yin and Yang bringing harmony and balance into the body through focused attention on slow movements.

When I watched these people slide effortless from position to another I was amazed how their hands glided and moved as if in prayer to the heavens and earth which is not unlike the Asana Yoga which I practiced in India last year.

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Photo: Local people practicing Tai Chi in the early morning.

I also observed that everyone in Hanoi are dedicated and very hard working, again supporting the Karma Yoga approach to life. And Yoga by definition means union with God.

So, as far as I can see God is alive and well roaming quietly unobserved throughout the crowded streets in Hanoi, unlike dogs who absence I found very disturbing.

 I love dogs, and I believe that they are man’s best allay, supporter and friend. According to Irish Legend

 When a dog stumbles into your life it is a whisper from God because Dog is God spelt backwards!!

I cannot quote its source but believe this saying to be true it nonetheless

Next stop and next post Ha Long Bay

The Old Quarter in Hanoi- the infamous 36 Street’s

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Hanoi is also a city that requires faith and a steady slow easy meditative walking pace, especially when crossing the road.

Don’t hesitate when the constant moving traffic does not stop, just keep going with your hand outstretched and pray that the speeding honking scooters and motor bikes will navigate their way smoothly around you. Or then again you could take a Tuk Tuk

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Photo of a group of Tuk Tuk’s – guess no one want to walk!!

In the 13th Century Hanoi’s tradesmen organise themselves into 36 Guilds with each guild taking a different street around the palace.

Today, this area is known as the infamous as 36 Street in The Old Quarter selling spices, wood carvings, detailed paintings of resin, duck eggs and pearl, silk, satin, flowers and food.  Narrow streets oozing with color and life. People sitting on sidewalks, tiny plastic tables and stools, are brimming over with tourists and locals alike savoring the freshly cooked sizzling and smoking baskets of food straight from the garden which taste and smell delicious.

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Photo: Paul in one of the 36 Streets restaurant stall  in the Old Quarter near the Night Market.

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Note to self.

When I arrived in this city I was reminded of Pondicherry in India except that there are no Cows, Holy Men or Beggars. The city of Hanoi is always moving. Everyone, everywhere is working or eating.

When we sat down at a street stall to eat, several vendor approached me to polish my shoes, which was a bit confusing at first. My mind set is focused on India which requires you to remove shoes before entering any one’s home. But this is Hanoi, my boots are removed, my stocking feet are put into flip flops. It is cold. I am standing under pretty light at a street corner with scooters flying by, wondering what I will do next. Will I  run after my boots or accept it and flip flop home?Miraculously, my boots reappear polished like new. It cost 20,000 dong which is the equivalent to twenty cents! They have no coins or beggars in Vietnam.

Then there is the traffic, honestly after nearly getting killed because I stopped walking when crossing the road, I decided the best way to survive was to close my eyes and keep going and pray. It worked. I  here to tell the tale.

In the next blog we will go to The Museum of Ethnology and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

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