17 February 2011

Good Day Vietnam

Our 5-week holiday is in wrap-up mode as we look forward to the next semester at Baotou Teachers' College.
The Vietnamese zodiac celebrates the Year of the Cat (whereas in China it's the Rabbit), and here are a couple of the felines floating on the river in Hoi An, a World Heritage City in the south. In the background you can make out the 16th century covered Japanese Bridge, a city landmark.
Not to be outdone, canines have a shrine in the Bridge, attesting to either the dog as a sacred animal to ancient Japanese or that the Bridge was built in a Year of the Dog (take your pick).  
The three most popular home shrine gods are (left to right) for longevity, prosperity, and happiness.
Temple worship includes prayers, altar gifts (fruit and Oreo cookies are popular), and lots of incense. Large incense coils hang from the ceiling with yellow cards noting special prayer names and dates. 
And the market was full of all kinds of wonderful things, including ducklings.
We're at the bottom of a dragon bannister at the citadel in Hue, which was the capitol of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. 
Here's the moat and entrance to the Hue Citadel, with a large picture of Ho Chi Minh at the entrance to this forbidden city (reminiscent of Mao overlooking Tianamen Square).
Folk singers reminded us of those on a boat trip where we released our votives on the Perfume River to bring us a year of prosperity. 
Back in Hanoi, where the Cột cờ gave the city's name to the Tower of Hanoi puzzle which stuck in Daniel's mind.  The connection doesn't get local attention -- a marketing opportunity not yet developed.