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One Pillar Pagoda

I took a Grab Bike over to Ba Dinh Square this morning to see the One Pillar Pagoda, an important site in Hanoi which dates back to the founding of the city 1000+ years ago.

The pagoda sits in a huge walled in green area, in a square it shares with the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Mausoleum. The site opens early but closes daily between 11 and 2. I was not so interested in the museum and I must confess not at all keen on lining up to view the preserved remains of their revered leader. I just wanted to have a look at the pagoda. There is a fee to visit the museum but I thought you could visit the square free.

At the gate, I told a guard what I wanted to do and he pointed me to another gate, where I was pointed back to the first gate. There a guard pointed me to a ticket office where I explained I just wanted to see the pagoda. Another guard who spoke English approached me. I explained I was being sent back and forth. He let out a hint of a smile. I know, he said. Why not just buy a ticket and go through here. Defeated, I coughed up the 40,000 dong. They put my bag through an x-ray machine – they’re very serious about this site and I understand that.

In 1954, the departing French colonists destroyed the original pagoda and the new government rebuilt the wooden structure on a concrete pillar. In front of it was a lovely shrine. I walked through but out of respect did not photograph.

The garden space was serene and alive with birds. I sat on a bench for a while, enjoying the bird songs, and after a while even saw a few butterflies. The square, separated from the chaos of the city proved to be an enjoyable spot to hang out.


  1. vox kadavergehorsamkeit

    The restored pagoda somehow looks far more welcoming than what i imagine the large, imposing, boxy building to be — a mausoleum, (but certainly not a sarcophagus). And some really fancy flower boxes.
    i see you have adapted to thinking in dong. Admirable, but for a man with a recent blister, sweating the $2.25 entry fee, well, let me remind you, you can’t take it with you.

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