The “Discover the Red River” tour takes clients along the Red River in the vicinity of Hanoi, allowing them to relish the beauty on both river banks and visit traditional villages.
We joined eight French and three American tourists to take a trip on a boat belonging to the Buffalotours Company. Starting from Chuong Duong wharf at 8:30, our boat chugged along slowly, providing an opportunity for us to contemplate rows of houses and the busy activities of people living in Hanoi, the old Long Bien Bridge built in the time of French domination and charming scenes on the two sides of the Red River.
After 30 minutes of boat travel we disembarked at Le Chi wharf in Gia Lam District. To continue the tour on land we were each given a bicycle. Passing a sloping dyke covered with green grass we reached a dirt road that took us another four kilometers to pedal to visit But Thap Pagoda in Dinh To Commune, Thuan Thanh District of Bac Ninh Province, 30km nort of Hanoi. Two inquisitive American boys, Finn-Oston and Finn-David Layer, the sons of Finn-Olaf Jones were very excited and energetic and led the troop. Often they stopped to watch herds of buffaloes and cows on the roadside with curious eyes. The French girls in our team enjoyed posing for photographs at the rice fields and lotus ponds.
Nguyen Anh Duc, the tour guide of our team introduced to us the unique features of But Thap Pagoda, one of the most renowned pagodas in Vietnam. Built in the Post Le Dynasty (17th century) the pagoda has unique architecture in a harmony with nature. Over time it has retained its beautiful architectural features and precious statues, particularly the statue of Goddess of Mercy with a thousand eyes and a thousand arms sculpted in 1656. This statue is considered a sculptural masterpiece of Vietnam.
Leaving But Thap Pagoda we rode to Dong Ho Village which is well-known for the craft of making folk paintings, in Thuan Thanh District. We called at the workshop of artisan Nguyen Dang Che, where we were told about the process of making Dong Ho paintings on the Do (poonah) paper and visited a showroom of hundreds of unique, old samples of paintings that have been preserved. At present only the families of artisans Nguyen Dang Che and Nguyen Huu San in the village are engaged in the craft of making Ding Ho paintings, preserving a cultural heritage of the village and of Vietnam as well.
After visiting Dong Ho Village we returned to the boat for lunch. On the way back in the afternoon, our boat called at the ceramic village of Bat Trang to learn about the craft of making ceramic ware. All of us were interested in watching the craftsmen drawing and painting pictures on the raw earthen items and baking the products. At the market thousands of diverse ceramic products were on sale. We left the village with beautiful souvenirs including flower vases and jars made by skilled artisans. The trip along the Red River left deep impression on all of us, especially the foreign visitors.
Finn-Olaf Jones confided: “I have visited many countries. Visiting Hanoi, I was really impressed by the trip along the Red River. Attached to this river are the imprints of villages, culture and history which are very impressive. Participating in this tour, my sons who are 12 and 14 years old will understand more Vietnam and its people. This is the best way to learn history.”
The Red River is 1,149km long. It originates from China, runs through Vietnam and discharges into the East Sea. Its sestion in Vietnam is 510km long. Its lower sestion running through Hanoi is 91km long and has the most beautiful features. The Red River has built up the Red River civilization.
On the occasion of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi, the municipal authorities will organize many tourism promotion activities, of which the “Discover the Red River” tour is a focal activity.