Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy New Year's from Vietnam!

Yesterday the streets were bustling as people were buying flowers and gifts on their way to relatives’ houses. Chuc Mung Nam Moi!!! (Happy New Year!)

Today the streets were dead as everyone was inside celebrating Tet (Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s/4th of July). Restaurants and shops are closed. Transportation is limited. On New Year’s Day, we were lucky enough to find the Temple of Literature and the Hoa Lo Prison open. The Temple of Literature contains multiple shrines with the main two shrines for Confucius and Chu Van An, a famous Vietnamese teacher. Shrub animals, trees, and stone turtle statues filled the courtyards.

The Hoa Lo Prison was originally built by the French for uncooperative Vietnamese during the French colonization. The only known escapes were through the underground sewer system. Later, the North Vietnamese used the prison for South Vietnamese and Americans. This is where the nickname “The Hanoi Hilton” was coined. Most of the American prisoners were pilots including John McCain.

Later, us girls went out for afternoon tea. We bought pineapple with red chili spices and freshly peeled water chestnuts from street venders. Both were delicious! Suzie tried a Vietnamese coffee. This consisted of a miniature drip coffee device. The black coffee dripped into a cup with condensed milk sitting on the bottom. The drink is a very sweet with a syrup consistence. I would defiantly get it again for an after dinner sweet!

Tomorrow we are taking a tour to Halong Bay. Ta ta for now!

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