|From Vietnam 2009|
Jamie and I rested up in the morning, but headed out into the town. We had the typical tourist sites we wanted to see and decided to walk the town instead of dealing with the motobikes, cabs, and other various forms of transportation you have to haggle with in order to get around.
Walking the streets of Hanoi isn't the easiest of tasks. The sidewalks are full of the motobikes, so you constantly have to dodge into traffic in order to go around them. Hanoi traffic is notorious for being full of motobikes and taxis. Even one of the postcards to buy around here is of the motobike traffic wheel to wheel and side by side.
Nonetheless, we headed out and found the Hanoi "Hilton" a few blocks from our hotel. This was a Vietnamese prison camp, but most notably to Americans, the prison camp that held the POWs shot down during the Vietnam War. They have converted it into a museum of sorts, and the propaganda and slant of the museum is very pro-Vietnamese. All of the pictures of the American soldiers are of them having a good time (fixing Christmas dinner, playing basketball, smiling) and generally being treated like kings. I'm sure that there were times like that, but what about the other times. We found it interesting.
Our next stop was a few blocks up the road for the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's oldest university built in 1076. It is mainly a tourist destination today, but the main feature of the "park" is the section that has all of the university graduates carved into these large stone blocks held up by turtles. Seymore got his picture taken among some of the graduates. We also bought our cookbook of Vietnam here.
As a side note for those who do not know, Jamie and I trying not to accumulate too many "things" from the places we visit. Simply, we don't do "knickknacks," and souvenirs we do buy we try and make them serve a purpose. We do, however, purchase a cookbook from every destination we visit. So far, we have cookbooks from every country we've visited and it is a tradition we hope to continue.
After the Temple of Literature, we headed north toward the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It was closed for the public to enter, but seeing it from the outside is quite outstanding. We walked around through the presidential gardens behind it and headed to the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
This museum is a dedication of the life of Ho Chi Minh, most notably North Vietnam's leader during the Vietnam War. It is difficult to describe this museum, but I saw it as an artistical interpretation of someone's life. You can see our pictures, but I'm not sure they do the museum much justice. One section of the museum, you walk into "Uncle Ho's" "brain." Yes, I know, strange, but informative. They seemed to have every letter and document and journal he'd ever written on display. Truly insightful.
We walked back through the presidential gardens and stopped by the famous One Pillar Pagota. We thought it was charming, but I'm sure some tourist would considering it utterly pointless.
It was early afternoon by then, but we decided to go back to the hotel and rest up before heading out again for dinner and general site seeing.
However, as I were resting and watching some TV, I passed some kidney stones that crippled me for the night. They finally passed about 9:00, but I was too exhausted to do anything.
We'll head back out into town tomorrow and check out some things before taking a night train to Sapa.
Be sure to check out the pictures...