From Hanoi we took a day trip to Tam Coc near the city of Ninh Binh. Tam Coc is like an inland Ha Long Bay (and also reminiscent of Guilin, China) with spectacular river and mountain scenery. The tour bus took us to the village of Van Lam, then we boarded a small boat which took us along the Ngo Dong River. We passed rice fields and spectacular mountain scenery. We floated through three natural caves. Our boat was rowed by two strong local women. On the way back to Van Lam, they began to try and sell us some embroidered goods. We bought a couple of pieces.
Pick a tour from any agency in the old quarters to go out of Hanoi and most tours will have temple visit. About 70% of the population re buddhists. It is interesting to see the architecture of their temple is different from the ones in China and Thailand. The colours signifiied different aspects of life such as orange represents health etc(if i remember it correctly). Offering one incense is to offer to King of the heaven, three is to offer to heaven, earth and the God of that temple and five is to offer for the five elements: Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth as in soil. All entrances to the temples will have a raised barrier to make sure that you "bowed down" as a respect to the Gods in the temples.
A totally unusual experience waiting to be had- worth the travel out of the city. Cuc Phuong National Park. Exhilarating ride on a scooter through beautiful Vietnamese countryside, and before you know it, you're in thick jungle. Take a night trek through the jungle- navigating through pitch black darkness, gnarled roots, branches and leaf litter armed with just a torch. Speed downhill in a rickety bike through a narrow, unmarked road snaking its way through the jungle- praying at every corner that you will be able to avoid going headlong with a motorcycle or bus going the other way. Stay in a hut ('hotel') totally cut off from the rest of the world, a few mosquitos and moths circling a single light bulb to keep you company. Drink Vietnamese rice wine and talk the night away with the friendly conservationists/ scientists working in the area. Be inspired by efforts done to help the wildlife in the surrounding jungles. Wake up to birdsong and monkey calls. Visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center and Turtle Rehabilitation Center. A truly priceless experience.
Thachthat district, Hatay province still keeps some unchanged things in her heart. Green bamboos and village's comunal house are some of those. Twas nice to see a pure agriculture village hiding herself in the shadow of bamboo as it was long time ago, has not affected much by the urbanlization waves from big city.
In the rural areas of Vietnam, the rice harvest season is also the season of ducks. Ducks go after farmers to eat dropped grain. Farmers feed ducks in this season will benefit from this - very low cost (nearly free food) but they can still sell ducks at a relatively high price in the city.
This reconstruction of a Giarai tomb was built with money from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What is exceptional are the wood carvings on the fence around the structure.The Giarai are the most populous minority in the Central Highland.
Please see the travelogue for more pictures of this and the other traditional structures at the Ethnology Museum.
The museum is just outside Hanoi in Cau Giay District, about 7-8 km from the downtown.
For me the best part of the museum wasn't the exhibits inside, but the "village" of the different kinds of traditional houses found throughout Vietnam.
Nguyen v.Huyen Road 191/20/10
Nghia Do, Can Ciay, Hanoi
If you have some extra time in Hanoi you should eithor go up to the mountains of down (accross) to HaLong Bay. If you choose to go into the mountains you should go trekking around Sapa. There are many minority villages here of Hmong and other hilltribes. This will be a great experience to go trekking in Vietnam. However, if you don't have that much time (I didn't) you can still make a quick day trip to the mountains outside Hanoi. It is extremely beautiful: the rice patties and mountains.
This picture have took in Do Son beach where most normal people went out catch the fish and many kind of sea products and back home after long days in late afternoon .Children were helping adult after get out of school .
This was one of a number of traditional Vietnamese houses on exhibit at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. Note the peaked roof and the interesting ladder/stairs!