Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hanging in Hanoi

Yes, sorry about the continuous silly titles, but I try to spice it up somehow. I am in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, as you may well have guessed, at the moment. Whilst a few days I was sweating like crazy, today I am not. It is damned cold here - well around 15 degree maximums. 
What can I tell you about Hanoi? It's got more bikes that Ho Chi Minh City for a start - and that's a LOT! The pollution is really noticeable here. My hotel in centred in the 'historic' old town. Lots of narrow alleys and motorbikes blocking your way. 
Lovely lake (pipctured below) known as the 'Returned Sword Lake'. It's am Athurian style legend that Heaven gave the Emperor many centuries ago a sword that that helped him defeat the attacking Chinese. A giant turtle or tortoise took it back at some point. The lake has walking paths all around it and where lovers talk and tourists snap. Interesting little temple on the island too.
 But Hanoi isn't all lakes and swords. No sir. I was up in time to get to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum yesterday. A long line of people queue up and slowly shuffle into the mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh's preserved body lies for all to see. A very... different sort of tourist attraction. He doesn't look the best to be honest, then again he died in 1969. However, his beard is very well preserved.
Below pictured is his museum where you can learn about the man at the head of Vietnamese independence. Again a rather skewed look at history, but interesting none the less. The Hoa Lo Prison Museum also shows a pro-Vietnamese version of events. The French kept political prisoners here in horrible squaller, whilst when the Vietnamese used it to hold POWs they were the most humane of captors you can imagine. Yes well, you'd have to ask the American pilots kept there.

Below is a street from the Old Town
So just a few more days left in Vietnam, including a trip to the much heralded Halong Bay. Unfortunately the weather won't be as warm as I would like, but still, it should prove rather spectacular... more when I return!

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