Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is a busy city with over 8 million citizens and there are few places where you can escape from the noise. One of those places is the Temple of Literature, which is dedicated to the teachings of Confucius. Unlike pagodas, which are places of worship for Buddhists, the temples in Vietnam are celebrations for famous people in the country’s history. Although Confucius did not live in Vietnam, the country embraced his teachings and creating the Temple of Literature in 1070 and using it as Vietnam’s Imperial Academy soon afterwards.

Statue of Confucius
Entrance to the Temple Grounds
Mythical Statue
Students Posing for Graduation Pictures
Golden Turtle Symbolizing Long Life

There are five courtyards in the Temple of Literature and each of them serve a specific purpose. From places where the scholars could relax, to areas of study, and altars dedicated to Confucius. Today, it is a busy place with many tourists visiting and we were fortunate to see many students that were celebrating their graduation from the academy.

Altar in the Temple
Dragon on the Roof
Building Separating Courtyards
Pond in a Courtyard
Bird on the Back of a Turtle

The Temple of Literature is not located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, so it is a short taxi ride to get there. It is certainly worth taking the time to visit and walk around this historic site with its amazing architecture and golden statues. Walking the grounds and seeing the different courtyards took us a couple of hours and the highlight was seeing all of the graduating students excited to get their diplomas. It was one of the first things that we saw during our time in Hanoi and it certainly made for a memorable start to a wonderful trip.

Beautiful Architecture
Flowers in a Courtyard
More Students

An Unusual Birthday Surprise When Traveling to Vietnam

We often travel around the times of our birthdays, mostly just because of the time of year that they occur. At this point in our lives, we don’t tend to make a fuss over our birthdays and certainly don’t tell people when we’re traveling if it happens to be one of our birthdays. This made what happened during our trip to Hanoi even more surprising. We had a very full itinerary while we were in Vietnam with every day full of long tours and it was always a joy to return to our hotel in the old town area of Hanoi.

Bringing Us a Whole Birthday Cake
Specialty Drinks with Dinner
Amazing Views of the Ninh Binh Province

On this particular day, we had gotten up early and gone to the Ninh Binh province where we saw many amazing sights. It was relatively late when we returned to the hotel and we were looking forward to going out and getting a bite to eat. As we entered the hotel, the staff at the desk asked us to take a seat in the lobby as they had some information for us. This did not surprise us as they were extremely helpful, friendly, and had provided us lots of useful information about places to go in the neighborhood.

Birthday Cake
Fruit Platter and Fresh Juice
Bed Decorated for the Birthday

What was surprising was when the staff returned with an entire birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday” to us. Since we had never mentioned the birthday to the hotel, we made the assumption that they must have gotten it from our passports. The staff told us that they were honored that we chose to share such a special occasion with them. In addition to the cake, they also gave us a tray of fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice. Then we went up to our room to change for dinner and discovered a hearts made from towels and flower petals on the bed. To say that the staff of the Antique Legend Hotel were wonderful would be an extreme understatement.

Filet for the Birthday Dinner
Hoan Kiem Lake

Riding Bicycles in the Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam

One of the things that was included in our tour of the Ninh Binh Province in Vietnam was riding bicycles through the countryside and along the rice paddies. Well, at least that was the description in the tour literature. We did ride bicycles, but it was not through the idyllic countryside, but rather through construction. Vietnam is known for it’s use of bicycles from the 1950’s, which aren’t as stable as modern bicycles. Add to that, we had to dodge construction trucks and ride over stones instead of a smooth path. It may be something that most tourists expect when visiting Vietnam, but we’d have preferred a quiet ride in the countryside versus a ride through a construction zone.

Stones on the Road and a Truck Up Ahead
It Would Have Been Pretty Without the Construction
More of an Adventure than a Quiet Ride
This is Closer to What the Tour Guides Would Like You to See