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The Hanoi Fine Arts Museum and more

This morning I connected with Candy via Zoom and my cell phone and we recorded a new episode of The Agency Podcast from a sidewalk cafe, complete with street noises.

The weather remained overcast but the rain stopped and a cool breeze dried things out. I packed my rain pancho in my kit bag and headed to the Temple of Literature and the Fine Arts Museum. As it turned out I passed them both on my way to Chicken Street last evening. There was no missing them today though – there were tour buses parked in front of The Temple of Literature.

The Temple of Literature, built in 1070, was Vietnam’s first university. It was created to identify and promote outstanding scholars. They held competitions at the village level with final exams in Hanoi. The small number of students who passed were assigned choice gigs by the king.

There are 5 courtyards and a temple area – and when I was there a few tour groups.

This is in contrast to the excellent Fine Arts Museum across the street which was nearly empty.

The Museum housed work from many centuries and included a fine selection of 20th Century paintings executed using a tradional lacquer method.

There was also a selection of sculptures, screens, woodcut prints and a low basement packed with very old ceramics.

The collection was somewhat overwhelming for a single visit. Some more robust labelling of the galleries would have helped me sort out the centuries and the mediums. Still it was well worth the visit and would be worth stopping by a second time as well.

On the way back I spotted a little sidewalk bun cha place packed with local customers, and decided to stop in for lunch.

This was another spot which has dispensed with the idea of ordering. I sat me down and shortly out came my greens and bun (vermicelli noodle) followed by a genous bowl of pork in that tasty bun cha sauce (or would you call it a broth). This was even better than the bun cba I enjoyed the other day.

By this time the streets were pretty much dry so I walked over to Hoan Kiem Lake and did a drawing, after which I headed back to my hotel to relax for a while.

I opted for a simple dinner tonight of fried rice and nem (spring rolls) in the alley around the corner from my hotel.

I wanted to avoid waking in the dead of night again, so I skipped an after-dinner coffee. It as another full day and I’m knackered.

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