December 26, 2006

Written in Stone

Forget the piece of flimsy, tiny paper shoved into a cardboard holder.

Now this is a Diploma!

In the central courtyard of the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first University built in the 11th century, are 80 of these stone stelae mounted on the back of turtles, erected for each graduating class. Each graduate has their name etched into stone as they pass their strenuous exams after five years of study. And in the spirit of learning, I discovered that Chinese characters were used in Vietnam until the 17th century, when a Portugese missionary phonetically translated Vietnamese into the roman alphabet.

There must be a hidden academic in me somewhere. I love visiting universities. I love the tranquil atmosphere, and the idea that people (well, only men) a thousand years ago traveled thousands of miles overland by foot to obtain knowledge. It was thrilling to visit the first university in Morocco, built in the 9th century, as well touring the very new Kathmandu University, built in 1991. Knowledge and education flourish only in times of peace and prosperity.

And so, a wish for peace and prosperity in this holiday season, and a happy and bright New Year!

1 Comment

  1. [...] James had devoured both my blog and Soyan’s and was full of birthdays wishes for Soyan and questions about our trip. He also shared some of his travels in pursuit of his goal to visit 200 countries before he dies. While he is only a little of 25% of the way, I don’t doubt he’ll make it. He seems to have an incredible knack for organizing adventures. It took me years to get my forum to go to Las Vegas. “a.S.i.D.” has gone to Angkor Wat, Hanoi and the Taj Majal to name just a few spots. Along the way they have the orchestrated impossible dinners in places likeHanoi’s Temple of Literature and an Angkor Temple. [...]

    Pingback by World Unfurled… An entrepreneur travels the world. » Welcome to Malaysia — December 27, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.