Bach Ma Temple and the Thirty-Six Streets of Hanoi

Bach Ma is a small, but elaborate Buddhist temple located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.  The temple is an honor of a white horse (Bach Ma means white horse) which appeared to a king and guided him in choosing the proper location of the temple.  It is beautiful and full of rich imagery and interesting decorative elements.  The Buddha is represented in three statues to present the Buddha of the Past, Present and Future.  There are also figures that represent guardians of the Buddha and the temple's founder, King Ly Thai To.

The large white horse is in the center.  There were kittens trying to get to an offering of chicken

There is beautiful lacquer work

There a two phoenix birds astride tortoises

A representation of the king

A carved wooden dragon

A subterranean tiger collection with an incense burner

After the visit to the Temple, we wandered the 36 Streets section.  This area of over 2,000 years old and most streets are devoted to a particular crafts or goods.  One of the most interesting street is for funeral goods.  Ancestor worship is an important component of religious observance.  There are paper cars, homes, special money and other items that people burn in the hope that their ancestors will enjoy these things in the afterlife.

The Old Quarter is lots of fun with shops and small restaurants that are ample sidewalks, but these are filled with parked scooters.  To cross the busy street, you must slowly, but confidently walk across.  Everyone slows down or simply goes around you.  Hanoi has terrible traffic with many cars, but an absolute deluge of scooters!


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