Uncle Ho's Hanoi
Trip Start Nov 16, 2005
38Trip End Jun 04, 2007
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After an uneventful 2 days on the North/South border city of Hue we arrive on the overnight sleeper train (we had to sleep with half a tub of tiger balm up our nostrils to help drown out the smell of the infamous Sth East Asian fruit, Durian, that some complete git had been eating prior to our boarding the train) into the Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi. Worlds away from the quickly developing Saigon, Hanoi is a maze of narrow streets, which beautifully combines old Parisian grace with furious Asian pace
Hanoi's traffic is easily the most dangerous we've had to dodge so far. All the locals park their motorbikes on the pavement. So in order to get around you have walk down the middle of already narrowed streets while traffic hurtles past you. The locals don't seem to mind though. In fact one Hanoian's advice on crossing the busy streets was to close your eyes and walk slowly to the other side. A lot easier to do after a few beer hoi's I can tell you!
The Ho Chi Minh (for those of you that aren't aware he was the North Vietnamese leader credited with liberating the country in 1954 from the French, "winning" the "American War" and reuniting Vietnam. He was and still is revered by the masses and affectionately known as Uncle Ho) mausoleum was undoubtedly Hanoi's highlight. We only thought we were going to see a memorial in his honour. Instead the old commie leader's corpse is actually laid out in his Sunday best for all to see in the same tradition as previous Russian communist leaders Lenin and Stalin.
In preparation for our viewing we're advised to stop talking, remove hats, sunglasses and take our hands out of our pockets etc. We also have to leave all of our bags outside and go through strict airport like security. Not exactly sure what all the fuss was about. What harm can be inflicted on a guy that's been dead for 36 years!! We choose not to argue the point with any of the several dozen armed communists staring coldly into our capitalist eyes and proceed to walk around the spooky glass case Uncle Ho calls home.
Hanoi is also the closest place to visit the 8th wonder of world, Halong Bay
Halong Bay has probably been our most eagerly awaited trip so far and it lived up to all our expectations. It was quite simply the most beautiful sea landscape you could ever imagine. Combine this with probably the friendliest group of travellers (you know who you are) we have met so far and you end up with the most perfect 3 days. We had cloud and bad visability throughout the trip so the attached pictures really don't do it justice.
In the last 150 years Vietnam has been abused and repressed by France, China, Japan, America as well as its own political leaders. Yet the people are not bitter. This may be because they are truly forgiving. But we just think there to knackered to give a s**t.
We're off to Laos. See you there!