Cyclo tour: Ambassadors Pagoda, Lenin Park, Opera House, Dong Xuan market

Our cyclo drivers from last night met us outside the hotel today at 2pm for our city tour.

First we went to the Ambassadors Pagoda, or Chua Quan Su. This is the center of Buddhism in Vietnam. The pictures here don’t do it justice because it was amazing. There were “Kindness Boxes” all over the place for donations. We came upon a room upstairs where there were probably 15 people counting money, by hand and with machines. It made me think of the Little Sisters of the Poor (where I work) after a church collection, only this was on a MUCH larger scale.

Our second stop was Lenin Park. There were lots of kiddie rides (which we skipped because the cyclo drivers were waiting for us and charging by the hour). One thing we thought was hilarious was the kiddie “Safety Village” sponsored by Microsoft, Ford, and New York Life. It was a little traffic safety course with streets, signs, bus stops, etc. No one seems to pay attention to lanes, stop signs, etc. around here. Maybe they need a course like that for the adults! There were some kids skateboarding near the lake, which we thought was interesting.

Next we went to the area where the Opera House is. This is the upscale part of town. There’s a very nice Hilton hotel, and we passed by brand name stores like Espirit, Jockey, Estee Lauder, Lancome, etc.

On the way back to the Old Quarter, we passed the statue of Le Thai To. Le Thai To was a Vietnamese general and emperor who won back independence for Vietnam from China in 1428. My cyclo driver said, “Le Thai To number one. Ho Chi Minh number two.” We know they love “Uncle Ho,” so Le Thai To must have been one heck of a guy.

After riding through the Old Quarter, they dropped us off at Dong Xuan market. The market itself is something to see because it’s crowded and busy, but the shopping in the Old Quarter is better (and we would know).

Zoe is very comfortable in the Baby Bjorn. This is how she spent most of the day.

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