Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Hanoi Sights

A few other sights seen in Hanoi included the Temple of Literature, one of Vietnam's oldest universities, the Museum of History, and the Museum of the Revolution.

The Temple of Literature is one big tribute to that wily old Chinese wisecracker, Confucius. Never a favourite of mine, he went down very well in the Orient, and apparently even Uncle Ho gave him a go. Before there were any schools, the wealthy could come here to learn how to be gentlemen (a contradiction in terms really).

The Museum of History recounts much of Vietnamese history up to the French period. Nice building though it is, it isn't a patch on some of its counterparts in Europe, though there are some nice Champa pieces (though where they got their representation of a lion I'll never know). Also their representations of the 'mythical bird', the Garuda, make you realise male preoccupations with female anatomy haven't changed much in millenia.

The Museum of the Revolution is harder stuff altogether. Comprised mainly of photographs it gives a jigsaw view of events since the arrival of the French to the departure of the USA. True, there is obviously party spin to everything, and Saint Ho gets a lot of press (confusingly using his many alias without any real explanation), but sometimes the pictures speak for themselves; a grinning Tricky Dicky (Vice-President at the time) inspects French troops in 1954; French-Japanese troops deal out some massacres; British troops arrive to support the French colonial effort; American soldiers train the South Vietnamese (again in the 50's). The same old culprits for the same old reasons. Nevertheless I saw at least one celebratory picture of North Vietnamese communists that had obviously been altered for some reason, with certain figures inexpertly painted in. Nothing is ever simple.

Oh, and there are a lot of weddings here. Quite apart from the many wedding shops, there were two bridal couples posing on the steps of the Opera House. (Later in Hue I saw a fetching bride, looking very cheesed off, being deposited alone by the side of the road by a moped).


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