The Temple of Literature is probably the oldest complex of buildings in Hanoi. Founded in honor of Confucius and modeled on the original temple in China. The guide books tell us that it was established in 1070 and was a centre for learning, educating mandarins for over 700 years. The complex houses the Temple of Confucius, the well of Heavenly Clarity, the Great Drum, and the names and brief details of students dating from the 15 to 18 century. We went in search of buildings, we found graduates.
It was graduation day for all the Colleges and Universities in the area. Where better to hold the graduation celebration than in the Confucian centre for higher learning. The joy of the graduates was palpable and infectious. We could not help but join in. Possibly because of the “Ancestor Worship” aspect to the culture and the tendency to respect and revere older people they welcomed us and helped us join in the celebration.
I was struck in the same way as I was in SaPa at the difference between the women, who were wearing traditional dress and the men who were dressed western black jackets and white shirts and black trousers. It was noticeable that the young women were more self assured and seemed to be enjoying themselves more.
We left several hours later, feeling overjoyed, exhausted, full of optimism not having seen a bit of the Temple all this activity had taken place in.
(With apologies to Paul Theroux for a bit of plagiarism).