22 Days in Vietnam: Day 19

Today we didn’t achieve a great deal, mainly because our numbers changed back to two with my fiancés parents returning to England.

The morning was occupied with trips to the Hanoi botanical gardens, Trang Quoc Pagoda and Ngoc Son Temple. The botanical gardens were a bit of a let down, so we won’t dwell on that. I will say the money’s there looked extremely sad though.

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Trấn Quốc Pagoda is a Buddhist temple located on a small island near the southeastern shore of West Lake. It is the oldest pagoda in the city, constructed in the sixth century during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De. It was originally built on the shores of the Red River, but when threatened with the river’s encroachment in 1615 it was relocated to West Lake where it stands today. With its harmonious architecture taking advantage of the watery landscape, the pagoda is a picturesque. The sunset views from the temple are supposed to be renowned, but unfortunately we won’t have time to find out. There is also a bodhi tree grown from a cutting of the original tree in Bodh Gaya where Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment. It is a radiant d exquisite Pagoda and worth taking a look. It is also free!

Ngoc Son Temple, also known as the Temple of the Jade Mountain is located on Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Being built on the Jade Islet and dedicated to Confucian and Taoist philosophers and the national hero, Trần Hưng Đạo.

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You cross from the shore along the Welcoming Morning Sunlight Bridge. The temple grounds includes “the Pen Tower” and “the Ink-slab”, as well as the “Moon Contemplation Pavilion” and “the Pavilion against Waves”. These all have symbolic meaning, but at the minute I couldn’t tell you what. The temple is a popular spot for visitors to Hoan Kiem Lake and is very busy. Entry is 20,000 VND.

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From here it was lunch and sending off the parent-in-laws to be.

In the afternoon we went to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. There are several performances a day, but they sell out extremely fast, so I recommend booking in advance.

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Múa rối nước literally translates as “puppets that dance on water”. It is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century in the villages of the Red River Delta. Today’s vietnamese water puppetry is a beautiful, fun and unique perspective of the tradition of Asian puppetry. I won’t go in to how the show is performed, it will ruin the magic! But I really recommend catching one of the many shows that are around Hanoi. They are a lot of fun, with fire, water, asian unicorns, dragons and laughs for all the family. My fiancé really enjoyed the show. There is a feeling of magic to it. Go and watch, you won’t regret! It is roughly 100,000 VND.

The rest of the day was spent checking out the many, many shops around the lake and streets of Hanoi. We need to fill our luggage allowance after all.

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