Monday, October 23, 2006

Cafe Indo_Chine 151006

Second day in Hanoi, a Sunday morning, and we are meeting old friends, Mr Binh and Mr Hiep, at the chic Cafe Indo_Chine in the southern part of old town. But first, I have to ride pillion with Mr Binh through the famous Hanoi bike traffic.

I've ridden pillion in Hyderabad (India) before and since I reckon Hyderabad has worse traffic, Hanoi is no big deal. In fact in Hanoi (and Saigon) the bikes 'flow like a river' and when you cross a road, just move forward slowly and the bikes will gently flow around you. Never make a sudden movement, and making a U-turn is absolutely not cool.

Arriving at Cafe Indo-Chine in one piece, I enter the tastefully designed eating house. Note the gent in the red shirt.

Inside the compound a stall is dishing out some tasty-looking chow.
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The Tiles 151006

On the way in, FREE WIFI announcement.

Mr Binh's kids tucking into their brekky.

Then I spot the artistically laid tiles ...

... and I get curious.

Upon closer scrutiny, the tiles reveal an interesting thing or two ... or three ...

The Man in the Red Shirt 151006

After admiring the tiles, I come face-to-face with the man in the red shirt. He's no other than Mr Phú Quang, renowned Vietnamese song-writer (reliable sources say he's in fact #1 in Vietnam) cum Indo_Chine owner. Being the sucker that I am, I walked away with an autographed CD from him. :-)

Mr Binh and Mr Hiep seem unable the resist the temptation of a photo-shoot with Da Man too.

To end the morning session, what better than to have a get-together photo. I've just noticed Mr Binh's kids are missing!

Thanks, Mr Phú Quang, great stuff!

Click images for better view.

Uncle Hồ 151006

After Indo-Chine, we pass by a huge square.

It's Uncle Hồ's.

This Uncle Hồ ...

Hồ Chí Minh lies embalmed behind this door, unfortunately not for display like Chairman Mao in Tian'anmen Square when we were last there.

The Temple of Literature 151006

An old stately government house, as we leave Uncle Hồ. This is the posh part of old Hanoi, mainly government properties.

Next stop is the 1000-year-old institution, a Hanoi landmark - the Temple of Literature. In the old days, temples and institutions of higher learning are synonymous.

This is Vietnam's first national university, founded 1076, when Europe was still in the Middle Ages, and without any university yet!

Click images for better read.

The Courtyard 151006

Another yard and gate to pass, as typical ancient temples want you to do.

Dedicated to Confucius, in the middle of the inner courtyard, a squarish pond awaits, flanked by structures sheltering huge stone tablets.

This inner courtyard is reserved for the Emperor.

1000-year-old stuff here.

The Graduates 151006

This is a medical school and the graduates' names are proudly inscribed on these ancient stone tablets ...

... carried by huge tortoises.

The names are all in classical Vietnamese scripts (similar to Chinese writing system). This wonderful script has since been replaced by the boring Latin script by the French colonists in the 19th century.

Characters are very similar to Chinese, thanks to Chinese influence in the old days.

And I wonder if anybody at present can actually read and understand them. It's a lost heritage.

Mr Confucius 151006a

Inside the complex, there's a spot to honour Confucius (551-479 BC), the man this temple was dedicated to.

Confucius Golden Rule #1: "What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognises as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to grant to others."

Confucius Golden Rule #2: "When anger arises, think of the consequences."

Confucius Golden Rule #3: "Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated."

Confucius Golden Rule #4: "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig 2 graves."

Confucius Golden Rule #5: "It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop."

Confucius Golden Rule #6: "Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it."

Confucius Golden Rule #7: "Study the past as if you would define the Future."

Mr Confucius 151006b

Confucius Golden Rule #8: "Have no friends not equal to yourself."

Confucius Golden Rule #9: "Respect yourself and others will respect you."

Confucius Golden Rule #10: "Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses."

Confucius Golden Rule #11: "The only constant is change."

Confucius Golden Rule #12: "To see what is right and not to do is want of courage."

City Street 151006a

Overloaded with Confucius Golden Rules, we decide to take a walk around downtown.

Old French building and labyrinthine cables.

Mobile restaurant ...

... fruits on the go.

These ladies have strong shoulders, but they still need to stop from time to time for a breather.

Typically old Hanoi: shady trees, 2- and 3-wheelers, and ... ummm ... :-D

City Street 151006b

Souvenir shop hawking the sickle-and-hammer, next to English Premier League trinkets.

Colourful metallic containers catch my eyes.

Stack of traditional hats of all sizes on sale.

Nope, not bikes on sale, but bike parking area.



Please return for new stuff.