Today we visited the Temple of Literature. It was founded in 1070 as a Confucian temple. The complex is a series of five courtyards linked by paths and gates, originally reserved for the emperor. In 1076 Vietnam’s first university was founded within the temple to educate the mandarin class. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779. During that time 1,306 doctors graduated. Stone stelae that are on the backs of turtles, a symbol of longevity and strength, record the names of those graduates who passed rigorous 35 day exams. The exams were not easy. In 1733 there were more than 3,000 entrants, but only eight passed the doctoral examinations (information from Fodor’s Vietnam).
Directly across the street from the Temple if Literature if Van Lake. In front of the lake was an exhibition of traditional bonsai art.
The lake is surrounded by a small park that is in the middle of city. There were walking, doing t’ai chi, playing badminton, and men and children fishing with bamboo poles.
These houses surrounding the lake are nicer than some others in Hanoi, but they are an example of the typical style of house. The government builds the cement core of the houses, and then it is up to each family to complete them. Families with more money finish the all sides of the outside of their homes with elaborate decoration. Some families finish only the front or the front and back, leaving the cement sides exposed. Some families leave just the cement walls, like the home in the middle in this picture.
On the way back to the hotel saw this guy loading a wooden desk onto his motorbike. Yesterday I saw a guy with a refrigerator. We have also seen pigs, trees, suitcases, and children sleeping on motorbikes. It’s pretty amazing. I don’t have near enough balance or coordination to do something like that. I think I would have a hard enough time keeping a motorbike upright with just me on it.