miss b's quote

'I haven't been everywhere yet but it's on my list' Susan Sontag

Thursday, 1 August 2013

miss b loves ..........Hanoi, Vietnam (Part 2)

During our stay in Hanoi, we were constantly amazed by the volume of traffic, mainly scooters and it's not uncommon to see three people on one scooter .......

 and often a family of four ......

The Temple of Literature, a 1000 year old national treasure and Vietnam's oldest university, is a tranquil place away from the noise of scooter horns...... 

Beautiful manicured lawns, lotus ponds and courtyards........

The 82 steles which sit on stone turtles are carved with the names of students who were awarded doctorates from 1442 to 1779. 
In Vietnamese culture, the turtle is a symbol of longevity.

Outside another cyclo ..... ready for the next tourists to come along......

Our next stop was a short walk just around the corner ...... Craft Link, a non profit-making shop selling high quality textiles and supporting craft workers in rural Vietnam. How could I resist these pretty silk purses, a perfect size for clutch bags!

The brown one for me and two cute gifts

Further along this stret was Koto (Know one, Teach one) a not-for-profit restaurant where disadvantaged youth are given training in Hospitality and they learn English and life skills. They serve tasty Vietnamese food ..... and I can recommend the carrot and walnut cake too ......

We walked to Ho Chi Minh's grey granite mausoleum where his preserved body lies in a glass case (even though he had stated in his will that he wished to be cremated!) Normally queues of visitors enter to pay their respects but it was closed on the day we visited. Would I have gone in there? Maybe not! 

The guards looked very dapper in their pristine white uniforms .......

The French colonised Vietnam more than 100 years ago and made Hanoi the capital of its Indochina empire. The Presedential Palace was oiginally built for the first French Governor.

When Vietnam gained independence in 1954, Ho Chi Minh apparently refused to live in such an ostentatious place and preferred to stay close by in a more simple property which had originally been servants' quarters ...

He later moved into a traditional stilt house in the palace gardens. 

Nearby is the One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple built in 1049 to represent a single lotus flower.

and there was an opportunity to buy more hand-made embroidery .......which we shall have framed...

Many of the very impressive French colonial villas and mansions in this area are now home to foreign embassies ..........

Hoa Lo prison was built by the French who named it Maison Centrale. It was used to hold Vietnamese prisoners, mainly political prisoners who were agitating for independence. Later, North Vietnam held prioners of war there during the Vietnam War and it was sarcastically known to American prisoners as the Hanoi Hilton. There's an interesting museum there including the guillotine room with the original equipment! 

At the heart of the French Quarter is the cream-coloured Opera House modelled on the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris and built from 1901 to 1911 by the then French administration.

There are so many French influences to be seen in the city including wide tree-lined boulevards, outdoor cafés and our hotel  .........the Metropole, a very special hotel steeped in history, which really deserves its own post at some point!

Saint Joseph's Cathedral, designed to resemble Notre Dame in Paris, was one of the first structures to be built by the French colonial government. To erect the Roman Catholic church they demolished the Bao Thien Pagoda.

Just across the road, Moca Café serves excellent coffee!

Hanoi now has its own glamorous shopping mall Trang Tien Plaza which was originally built in 1901 and known then as Les Grands Magasins Réunis. All the usual high-end brands are now there..........

and we came across this sophisticated coffee shop in there too ............

 .......so very different from the quaint narrow streets of the Old Quarter (if you missed our trip to Hanoi, Part 1 you can read about it here)

Finally....I almost forgot to mention the Water Puppet Show  at the Thang Long Theatre .... a fun and quirky cultural show where hidden puppeteers depict rural Vietnamese life and folk tales, all accompanied by live singers and a traditional orchestra. 

There is definitely something enchanting about this city ..... a city of contrasts. The Vietnamese people ...... from the immigration officers at the airport .........to the street vendors (whether we purchased anything or not!) were friendly, welcoming and courteous ..... another reason why we plan to return to see more of Vietnam ...........

miss b also recommends:

  • October or November - the best time to visit when the weather is cooler and drier (We chose June as I was celebrating my birthday!)
  • Joma Bakery and Café - excellent organic and fairtrade coffee!
  • Mosaïque - a beautiful store selling home furnishings

PS I've just realised that I published my first blog post two years ago ...... 11th July 2011 to be precise! Another year of blogging has passed so quickly that I almost forgot my blog birthday!!

It's an ideal time to thank everyone for being so supportive, for reading, following and for taking the time to write such positive comments. I really do appreciate it and look forward to another year! 




  1. Miss B, the second part of your trip is amazing as the first one! Is a city that makes me very curious for many reasons, especially the culture and the lifestyle so different from here! The temple looks stunning, I would love to visit it!:) Also happy blog anniversary dear, keep it up your great work and congrats!:) Kisses! xo

  2. Lovely post. I can't believe how much Hanoi has changed since I was there 8 years ago - the mall with Dior etc was definitely not open... it was not particularly westernised at all, although signs of development were everywhere. My parents went to Vietnam when it had just been reopened to the West back around 1989... they were assigned guides (you were not allowed to travel anywhere without one, and were not supposed to engage in conversation with the locals), and there were very few tourists. All the hotels were apparently like time capsules from the early 1970's when the Vietnam war finished. xx

    1. Thanks for writing about your parents' visit. It's hard to imagine not being able to just wander around freely taking in all the sights and culture but it must have been an interesting trip.

  3. It is great that you are enjoying your trip. I cannot believe that 4 people ride on one scooter.

    Happy blog birthday!

    Tracy @ www.sunnydaystarrynight.com

  4. Wonderful post Miss B. I learned so much about Vietnam. Such a historical place to visit. Happy Blog Anniversary!

  5. Amazing pics, darling!
    Love the one pillar pagoda!


  6. Happy Birthday Missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk! Keep doing what you're doing!

    The architecture is stunning and you have captured it beautifully with your photography, I can see the French influences coming through. I loved the idea and concept of Koto, and if they do good cakes as well, well......that's icing on the cake!

    Have a great weekend Miss B x

  7. Happy blog birthday! I adore Hanoi and would go again in a second! Did you also manage to go to the bunker tour at the metropole? that was rather interesting. It makes me want to go back!

    1. Hanoi is certainly a fascinating place. Yes, we did the tour at the Metropole - very interesting too. I'll be mentioning it when I write a post about the hotel.

  8. Happy blog birthday Miss B! I really love the way you travel. Now Vietnam is hitting a higher chart in my list. Have a beautiful weekend!

  9. Firstly, a very happy blog birthday to you Miss b. It's so nice to see illy coffee there as well. I an such a fan of hand embroidery, it's a beautiful art! As always, what a great and in depth post for us to view on Vietnam. Happy weekend dear! xx/Madison

  10. Happy Anniversary to you ! This is a neat post but I doubt I will get to Vietnam in person. So great to see these places with wonderful blog's like yours to get an idea what the area is like. Thank you !!


  11. Happy Blog Birthday Miss B! I wish you many more doll. So enjoy reading your blog. I finally got to see a Pagoda through your pictures! HaHaHa I often read about them, but there's nothing like seeing it. That yellow Presidential Palace and Opera House are amazing. They're so beautiful. Wow if Ho Chi Manh wanted to be cremated, they sure did the exact opposite by preserving his body! And people coming to see it. I've never seen a body preserved so long. WOW! Maybe it was best it was closed that day. HAHAHAHA I also learned that turtles are sacred in their culture. Thanks Miss B! I learned so much from your trip. Love that!

  12. I've always wanted to Vietnam and reading your posts about your trip is moving it up the list. I feel like I've seen that Opera House pop up in more than one film. Now wonder since it looks beautiful!

    Happy Blog Birthday and have a lovely weekend!

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  13. SOOOOOOOOOOOOO JElous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    happy Birthday TO YOUR BLOG sweetie!!!!!!!!

  14. Beeing able to see Vietnam is just simply priceless...Love those picture, I enjoyed this very much! Vietnam seems like an amazing country, remember now when I saw Top Gear episode that took place in Vietnam, trio fantasticus was also amazed by this country! Love it!

  15. You always make each place you visit look so glamorous!! Great photos! I love that phrase at the top .. makes my laugh and I remember the first time I heard it. The volume of people and traffic IS amazing. I've also heard that they fit LOTS of people on those motor bikes!

  16. Happy anniversary it is always such a joy to look at your blog. I can always feel the atmosphere, culture and people from your blog. Vietnam has been a joy I love how we can feel the culture and warmth of the people. I love your purchases the embroidery print is such a lovely reminder of your travels. Have a fun weekend

  17. Oh, I didn't realize how lovely Vietnam is. The 'One Pillar Pagoda' surroundings look so peaceful. The embroidery is delightful and lovely. I want a piece of that carrot and walnut cake!! And the Saint Joseph's Cathedral is beautiful. It looks like such an old building, which I love. Once again, you have taken me away to another part of the world, where I probably wouldn't be able to go, so I thank you so much for that.

    Have a wonderful weekend.


  18. Hi sweety, i love that you include important facts and some history in your travel posts, i like learning about different countries and cultures, I had no idea bout the French influence. I wonder how safe it is to have so many people on a scooter! I bet they have it mastered. Stopping by to wish you a wonderful weekend! May it bring you many smiles :)

  19. P.S Happy Blog Birthday!! Well done on this great milestone!

  20. My sister lived there for two years and I curse myself often for not going and visiting her there. I love the pictures of the families on the scooters - but of course like everyone else I do wonder what the accident rate is like there???

  21. Love the pictures... even the prison looks amazing :)

  22. Sounds fascinating! It is definitely on my list as well.

  23. Thank you for sharing another interesting travel diary Miss. B! Happy second Bloggiversary dear!
    Have a great weekend, with love
    Coco et La vie en rose
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    Coco et La vie en rose on Facebook
    I entered a style contest: please click HERE and give me a LIKE if you like :-)

  24. Thank you for taking us on a tour. Your photos are lovely and Happy Blog Birthday! xoxo, B

  25. If I plan on travelling to Vietnam, I will certainly revisit your posts. Thanks for sharing so much interesting information.

  26. Thank-you so much for taking us on this fascinating tour of Hanoi, Miss B - I'm officially convinced that I need to see Vietnam and it's entirely because of you. I must admit that I was a little taken aback seeing the Palais Garnier transported to Vietnam, but it does make sense considering how long the French occupied the country :)

  27. What a great photo series of Hanoi, must visit some day! xo Caroline

  28. Very interesting post, I really want to go to Vietnam!!!!
    Congratulations for your second birthday.
    we follow you honey, we woukd like you to visit us and if you like our blog, follow us too ;).

  29. I know Saigon, not Hanoi!
    I went there in 2005, I love this country, and the people!


  30. Lucky gir. You are travelling around the world to most amazing places, writting down all these tips and your experience you are kind enough to share it with us. Big big thank u!
    Miss Margaret Cruzemark

  31. Well, you just doubled my knowledge of Vietnam! Of course I knew that it was a French colony, but really did not know about the parallel construction and architectural styles of Paris during the Haussmann era. The resemblance to Palais Garnier is remarkable and the colors are more tropical. The palace is stunning right down to its Baroque details.

    As much as I love France and the French, it is a bit disturbing all these years later to think about the loss of their culture and historic (religious?) sites.

    Thank you for this beautiful view of Vietnam.


  32. Happy Blog Birthday:)
    I'm dying to go to go Vietnam!
    Loved Thailand, and can;t wait to experience more of SE Asia..
    There is nothing worse than being hustled by vendors when you are trying to shop! Great to hear that they are as lovely and friendly as most of the ones in Thailand were!
    I find the Turkish people lovely to try and bargain with too:)
    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip...

  33. If I wasn't sold in the first part (I was), I certainly am NOW! I had no idea there were so many beautiful French buildings to be seen. You have shown a side of Vietnam that I didn't even know existed. I am more excited than ever to visit!

  34. This must be so different from the European holiday experience, maybe one day I get there too!

  35. oh wow, the pagodas and gardens look so beautiful. i have a lotus flower tattoo so naturally i love those gorgeous pink lotuses in the pond! so much natural beauty!

  36. Congrats on your 2nd blog birthday!! What a milestone. Your images are stunning. I have never traveled to Vietnam but my step daughters did and fell in love with it.
    Wonderful glimpse of this fascinating country!
    xx, Heather @Stylemindchic

  37. Happy blog birthday! Love these photos!

  38. Such a gorgeous place. I enjoyed reading about all the history behind it.

    7% Solution

  39. love the photos of your trips!

  40. I wanna go, I wanna go, I wanna go

  41. Gorgeous photos! :)


  42. Loving these pictures!! xo, Julie

  43. I love your reporting. The family on the scooter is adorable!

  44. Vietnam looks so amazing! It's so stunning, I'm really surprised by just how many buildings are French inspired. Thanks for sharing, I'll be daydreaming of a visit to Vietnam now. Happy blog birthday!


  45. Miss B,
    Really enjoyed this! What a lovely city and so much charm. I appreciate all the history and information you add. I love to learn more while I am experiencing your trip. The photos were terrific too. I especially like the woven picture. A great souvenir!

    Congratulations on your blog anniversary ! It takes a lot of time and dedication to keep it up and with quality like yours! Also hope your birthday was wonderful!


  46. Happy Blogiversary!
    You have the best travel posts, I swear! I cannot get over the family of four on the scooter!

  47. Happy anniversairy to your blog! What a milestone. And love your travel photos to Vietnam! I've always wanted to visit and experience this unique culture, your photos are sensational!

    You've got a great blog, would you like to follow each other?


    1. Thank you. I'll certainly pop over and have a look at your blog.

  48. Gorgeous photos of Vietnam:) Happy blog anniversary and I look forward to another year of lovely posts!

  49. So many amazing comments once again! When I started my blogging adventure two years ago I had no idea how rewarding it was going to be. I love to hear what you think and it really does make writing the posts worthwhile!
    Thank you!

  50. Sounds great. I was in Ho Chi Minh. It was there same with there traffic ;-) Greetings from Zürich

  51. A late happy birthday both to you and to your blog : ) Thanks for showing me a part of world I haven't been and probably won't be able to go for some years. If I go one day, I will reopen all your Vietnam posts : ) That hand made embroidery is so lovely btw : )


Thank you for taking the time to write a comment on my blog. I really do appreciate it. miss b

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