Tuesday, September 30, 2008

War & Peace

One of the great things about having so many visitors is that it guarantees I see everything in Hanoi. PJ and I went for a ride around the city last week and stopped in two places I had never been. The first place was the oldest pagoda in Hanoi.

Immediately upon entering the pagoda, which is on the edge of West Lake, we heard some chanting. We followed the noise to the back of the pagoda where about thirty women and one man were chanting Buddhist hymns.

video

After this peaceful morning we decided to balance it with a little violence -- we went to the Vietnamese War Museum. The museum is basically a collection of old USA (and a few French) war materials: choppers, fighter planes, tanks, bombs, guns, etc.

The cool thing about the museum wasn't the war supplies but rather the Flag Tower at the front of the museum.
The flag tower was built in 1812 and is one of the most recognizable symbols of Hanoi. I've passed it a hundred times but finally got a chance to climb it. The views from the top were pretty spectacular. The coolest view was of a soccer field behind the War Museum where some soldiers were doing drills with their rifles. There was a sign on top of the tower that said pictures weren't allowed to be taken. Being a law abiding citizen, I obeyed the sign. However, PJ, being a celebrity thought the rules were for regular people and snapped away a few pictures. Oddly though the pictures didn't come out. I chalk it up to communist technology.