Going Solo in Vietnam

“Some journeys can be traveled alone. If you need to wait for someone else, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.”

Even years after she was gone, I can still hear my Mom saying that. I was molded to be independent, brave, and courageous even when I have to decide and do things on my own.

I remember doing the same solo backpacking back home but that was different because people speak in the same tongue and we can understand each other. But this time, going to a foreign land, with nothing but my wits and will, how will this turn out? Well, it turned out to be what it should be – amazing! And I cannot stress that enough.

My history class back in college has always inspired me to visit countries, especially those that have a long and complex history and cultural traditions. For now, I decided to explore Hanoi and its neighboring provinces.

Vietnam is a country occupying the eastern portion of mainland Southeast Asia. It is rich in history and the cultural traditions vary a good deal in different regions. According to Vietnam Travel and Living Guide, Vietnam should be correctly written as Viet Nam. The word “Việt” is a word used to refer to the people who lived in what is now southern China in ancient times, and “Nam” means the South.

Throughout history, there were many names used to refer to Vietnam. The name “Vietnam” has been official since 1945. It was adopted in June by Bảo Đại’s imperial government in Huế, and in September by Ho’s rival communist government in Hanoi. 

Exploring Hanoi:

Temple of Literature

wp-1577075566946.jpg
The entrance fee is 30,000 VND. (It’s like $1.3 depending on the currency exchange.)

This is the temple of Confucius that was built in 1070. In 1076, Vietnam’s first university, the “Quốc Tử Giám”, or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple during the reign of  Lý Nhân Tông to educate Vietnam’s bureaucrats, nobles, royalty, and other members of the elite.

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

This sits in Ba Dinh Square and one of the most visited places in Hanoi. It is said to be the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s most iconic and popular leader, known to his subjects as Uncle Ho. His body is preserved here in a glass case and people from all over the world had to wait in a long queue just to have a glimpse of the unique part of history.

wp-1577077759430.jpg
Note: They are very strict with cameras and phones. Your photo equipment will be returned at the exit. (No entrance fee, only in the palace.)

Train Street

wp-1577079861220.jpg
No worries, I was on the other side of the street and I took this photo half an hour before a train passed by.

Train Street is located between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The area has a still-functioning 117-year-old railway track that divides a street full of homes and cafes on either side. A few times a day, a speeding blue train passes through the street where people live. One minute the street is busy and the next, people will scoop up their things, adjust their canopies, move their tables back, and step to the very edge to let the train whizz pass, just a few inches away from your nose.

This once local secret has become a popular site for tourists and in October 2019, the street was ordered to be closed after a train had to make an emergency stop and be rerouted because there were too many tourists on the train tracks.

I have still a lot of good stories to tell, but for now, I need to park my pen as my Grab Bike is waiting. =P

 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply to Gerrit Tienkamp Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.