Monday, May 26, 2008

One Pillar Pagoda

Vietnam time: 5:30 PM Monday
DC time: 6:30 AM Monday

I feel so much better having showered and slept the night in this amazing bed. The Intercontinental is fantastic and the staff is top-notch.

This morning we drove around Hanoi and explored the downtown area. Our first stop was the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. We arrived in time to see the changing of the guard. Given that I've seen this same routine 100 times in Arlington cemetery, it was fun to again watch the process as a tourist.

From there we walked to the one pillar pagoda. The superstition here is that by saying prayers and making a donation, this will result in a son or grandson being born.

Afterwards we went to the temple of Literature which was founded in 1070. Sadly, my camera battery died here so I'm adding another 'internet' picture to show the cool tortoise statues. There was also a musical performance we watched. It was amazing to see their talents as seen in video below. (I did have batteries in that camera.) Unfortunately, the song they played right after this one was "Oh Suzanna". It kind of lost it's appeal after that.

From there we headed to the old quarter where we literally took our lives in our hands as we walked the streets. Watch as these motorcycles drive down the streets. (Sorry for the jumpy video.) We crossed in between them probably 10 times and the orchestrations of vehicle and pedestrian is so natural for them, but frightening for us. The streets, or Hang as they are called here, are divided by products sold. Shoes, hand bags, food, toys all line both sides of the different streets. Vendors sit out front and for many of them, their residences are above the store fronts.

After 45 minute sof walking the market area, we headed to the R'ung Forest Restaurant. We dined on a seven course lunch of vegetable soup, prawns fried in coconut, sweet & sour fish, beef salad with mango and spring rolls. It was awesome.

We actually did business today and met with the Ministry of Finance. Discussions included the affects of foreign banks of how that changes the way locals approach borrowing money and utilizing the institutions for the saving of money. Real estate and financial bubbles were also discussed, though many of us felt our professors were slightly unprepared. The weird part is that we never seem to know what we are supposed to be talking about until minutes before. It makes for a slightly chaotic presentation.

Tonight is dinner and reception in the hotel. Most of us are fine with staying in the hotel another night. We're all still a bit jet-lagged.

Here are a few more pictures.

Stephanie & me



Blogger Lisa said...

Envy envy envy! I am glad you're having a great time!

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Boobie said...

You look pretty damn good for the few hours of sleep you had !!

Have Fun


5:45 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

This is WONDERFUL! I'm so glad that you're enjoying yourself - and even MORE glad that you're sharing with US!

Really? Oh Suzanna? Ummmm, okay....

I don't think I'll ever travel to Asia. I have such a serious seafood allergy that I'd probably not survive the trip! Have you had a meal that hasn't involved fish yet?

6:34 PM  
Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

Dude. Oh Suzanna? What, no Freebird?

Looks like you're having a great time, despite the jet lag.

9:52 PM  

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